Before he got to the sexual-harassment scandal plaguing Bill O’Reilly, Meyers said he felt it was important to “understand just how influential Fox News is right now,” especially with its most loyal viewer, Donald Trump, who regularly cites the news channel’s reports on Twitter.
Summing up the “symbiotic” relationship, the Late Night host said, “They give him glowing, unquestioning coverage, and in return he gives them unparalleled access.” Trump also “goes out of his way” to promote Fox News shows, like he did last week when he asked his Twitter followers to watch Judge Jeanine Pirro’s show right before she called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to step down.
“So Fox is basically the closest thing we have state TV,” Meyers said, calling it a “mutual appreciation society,” in which the network and Trump “heap praise on one another,” even to the surprise of some of the channel’s hosts.
Meyers highlighted Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith as two Fox News anchors who have treated Trump fairly, but noted the president doesn’t often quote them on Twitter. He’s more likely to crib notes from Bill O’Reilly—for instance, the time Trump hyped an alleged terrorist attack in Sweden that never took place. “O’Reilly has routinely defended Trump, even when Trump has done the indefensible,” Meyers said, pointing to O’Reilly’s refusal to play excerpts from the infamous Access Hollywood tape, calling it “crude guy talk.”
“And if it seemed outrageous to you at the time that O’Reilly would dismiss Trump’s apparent sexual assault confession as ‘crude guy talk,’ it might make a little more sense now,” Meyers continued, after The New York Times report on the $13 million paid out in settlement money to five women who sued the host for sexual harassment.
“Soon, the only advertisers left on his show are going to be Ivanka Trump’s clothing line and Steve Bannon’s skin worserner,” Meyers joked. “And yet, in spite of all of this, you’ll never guess who came to O’Reilly’s defense today: Donald Trump.”
And just this past July, O’Reilly himself was defending his former boss Roger Ailes from sexual harassment charges to Meyers. “You’re a target, I’m a target. Any time, somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press or anything like that. And that’s a deplorable situation,” he said at the time, adding, “I stand behind Roger 100 percent.”
“This is the network that the president relies on for information,” Meyers said. “A network with an archaic culture of sexual harassment, fear, and intimidation that also serves, with a few exceptions, as his propaganda arm.”