5 Reasons Why Trust in Fox News Has Eroded Over the Past Year

Posters featuring Fox News Channel talent including TV anchor Bill O'Reilly are seen outside the News Corporation headquarters in New York City
Posters featuring Fox News Channel talent including TV anchor Bill O'Reilly are seen outside the News Corporation headquarters in New York City. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

"How the mighty have fallen!"

The biblical lament has particular relevance this week, as Bill O'Reilly—trusted by millions of Americans every weeknight since 1996 on his "spin-stopping" Fox News program The O'Reilly Factor—will not return to the network following an exposé of alleged sexual harassment incidents over the past decade.

The announcement follows other high-profile departures from the nation's top cable news network in recent months. Notably, prime-time anchor Megyn Kelly will soon debut as a news commentator for NBC News—following her lead role in last summer's resignation by Fox News president and founder Roger Ailes, who was forced out by sexual misconduct charges similar to those facing O'Reilly.

It's a confusing moment for many Americans. Without doubt, loyal viewers of Fox News played an outsized role in the historic election of President Donald Trump. Many are now evaluating his administration's first 100 days, enumerating what accomplishments to trumpet in defense of their electoral choice while grappling with the former reality TV star's limitations as a statesman.

Without O'Reilly to "look out for the folks" (as he often stated was his driving factor), the 24/7 fair and balanced coverage suddenly seems less reliable to help cable TV viewers in this evaluative process. What will the network's future hold? The answer will surely take cues from its past, including the unprecedented events of 2016.

The easy route for conservatives would be to dismiss the upheaval at Fox News—long anchored by O'Reilly, perched atop the ratings behemoth—as another mainstream media plot, a coordinated effort to take down what many on the right consider the only "truth serum" in news media. That perspective has factual elements, but it's not the entire story.

Those who welcome even some of how Fox News has changed the national media landscape should think critically about recent events and what knowledgeable critics are saying. In the Unresolved Problem segment tonight, here are five reasons why trust in Fox News has eroded over the past year.

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