By Joe Pompeo | 04/19/2017 06:02 AM EDT

With Cristiano Lima

FROM ATTORNEY MARC E. KASOWITZ LAST NIGHT - "Bill O'Reilly has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America. This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O'Reilly for political and financial reasons. That evidence will be put forth shortly and it is irrefutable."

That's some statement! If nothing else, it shows that in the face of mounting sexual harassment allegations, activist protests and advertiser boycotts, a drip drip of press reports suggesting his days at the "Fair and Balanced" network are numbered, a giant tea leaf of a tweet from Matt Drudge (scroll down), the pugilistic Fox News anchor and conservative-media superstar is still swinging -- gloves off. (Guess if you're in the thick of it like this you might as well be on week-long vacation in Italy, right?)

The $111 million question: Will 21st Century Fox bosses Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch send O'Reilly packing like Roger Ailes before him? New York mag's Gabe Sherman : "Three sources with knowledge of the discussions said that, while no final decision has been made, the Murdochs are leaning toward announcing that O'Reilly will not return to the air. Sons James and Lachlan have been arguing that O'Reilly needs to go, say these sources, though their father, Rupert, has resisted that outcome." NYT: "Bill O'Reilly's position at Fox News grew increasingly tenuous on Tuesday as support from the Murdoch family showed signs of eroding. ... ... Mr. O'Reilly has received no indication that the company is planning to take him off the air"

Similar from Brian Stelter over at CNN: "A well-placed source said Tuesday afternoon that representatives for Fox and O'Reilly have begun talking about an exit. But this prompted a denial from sources in O'Reilly's camp. Even one person close to O'Reilly, however, said he will probably not be back on 'The O'Reilly Factor.' The original well-placed source said an announcement about O'Reilly's fate was likely by the end of the week."

Nail in the coffin? From Murdoch's Wall Street Journal: "Fox News is preparing to cut ties with its biggest star, Bill O'Reilly, according to people close to the situation."

The latest allegation, via THR: "Bill O'Reilly used to leer at an African-American Fox News clerical worker and called her 'hot chocolate,' according to attorney Lisa Bloom, who helped the woman report the harassment to the network's hotline. The woman worked for a different broadcaster in 2008 while this was going on, but The O'Reilly Factor host's office was near her desk, the attorney claims."

Grain of salt: Remember the Fox News Mole? "As much as it pains me to defend him, this is bullsh-t. I sat 15ft from his office door from 2007-2012. No one like this woman was nearby," Joe Muto testifies on Twitter. "Don't get me wrong. He's definitely guilty of all those other ones. This one just doesn't pass the smell test for me."

TIPS AND COMMENTS: jpompeo@politico.com / @joepompeo. Morning Media is edited by Alex Weprin (@alexweprin / aweprin@politico.com) and produced with writing/reporting help from Cristiano Lima ( clima@politico.com / @ludacristiano). Archives. Subscribe.

HOT OFF THE PRESSES - Hadas Gold reports this morning: "According to a new survey by Morning Consult, 46 percent of all those surveyed said Fox News should cancel 'The O'Reilly Factor' while 22 percent said the network should keep it. (32 percent said they had no opinion.) Among those who said they watch the show, 23 percent said it should be canceled while the majority, 58 percent, think Fox should keep O'Reilly in place."

'SHATTERED' NOW ON SHELVES - The new tell-all from Jonathan Allen and Annie Parnes about "Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign" enjoyed a hype-heavy release yesterday, with excerpts in POLITICO Playbook and Axios A.M., Twitter buzz aplenty (Jack Shafer: "The fevered dredging of 'Shattered' for news nuggets is something to behold") and a favorable Michiko Kakutani review in The New York Times: "'Shattered' creates a picture of a shockingly inept campaign hobbled by hubris and unforced errors, and haunted by a sense of self-pity and doom, summed up in one Clinton aide's mantra throughout the campaign: 'We're not allowed to have nice things.'"

The authors to CNN's Chris Cilizza: "The media are limited in the data they're seeing and the data they saw suggested she was in a position to win. For the public polls it's embarrassing to be off. But for her analytics team it was consequential to be off." Full interview.

MUST READS:

-- "The Continuing Fallout from Trump and Nunes's Fake Scandal" [The New Yorker]

-- "A Vision of Trump at War" [Foreign Affairs]

-- "Alec Baldwin Gets Under Trump's Skin" [The Atlantic]

-- "When Rising Seas Transform Risk Into Certainty" [NYT Mag]

-- "How The Best Podcast Of The Year Was Made" [BuzzFeed]

ARE WE AS CLOSE TO TO NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR WAR AS CABLE NEWS WOULD SEEM TO SUGGEST? Here's a noteworthy exchange from yesterday's "Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC, featuring White House correspondents Carol Lee (WSJ) and Annie Karni (POLITICO) as guests...

Lehrer: I watch enough cable television news to see that some people are going on the cable channels and saying, This is not gonna end well. No matter what we do, Kim Jong-un is gonna push it ... and we're gonna have to strike North Korea. What are your best sources telling you about, if we're on the verge of war with North Korea?

Lee: We're not on the verge of war with North Korea. ... It's kind of all ramping up, and ... what people are concerned about is that you could have something unintended happen, and that triggers some sort of military confrontation. But everyone I've talked to in the White House says a preemptive strike is not what they're looking at right now. They really wanna play the China diplomatic game.

Karni: There's this trifecta of Mattis, McMaster and Tillerson who are really respected as people who are responsible and experienced. ... There is a group of people who know what they're doing on foreign policy. Donald Trump, he still tweets, and there could be accidental language that isn't helpful, but I think the threat level has gone down.

Related from Marc Caputo down in POLITICO's Florida bureau: "Underplayed on cable re: North Korea nuke threat: it's had nukes for years and never used them. Let's take the fear-mongering down a notch"

SOUND BITES:

-- "O'Reilly has had tremendous run. Very few in the business get to decide when and how things end. Media is most brutal of all industries..." [Matt Drudge]

-- "Hey, @realDonaldTrump, my new book TRUMP IS F*CKING CRAZY, will be published in October by Blue Rider. Enjoy!" [Keith Olbermann]

-- "Facebook still hasn't come to terms with what it really is -- a media company where people get their news." [Margaret Sullivan]

-- "Everything Facebook demonstrating now at #f8 is going to make the fake news problem so much worse. It's like photoshop for video on steroids" [Vivian Schiller]

REVOLVING DOOR:

-- The Daily News is getting someone new to oversee the type of coverage that won the tabloid a Pulitzer for public service journalism last week. Jim Gaines, a Time Inc. veteran who joined The Atlantic two years ago as director of the publication's in-house branded content operation, is jumping back to the journalism side to become enterprise editor at the News starting May 8, editor in chief Arthur Browne revealed in a staff memo. Earlier in his career, Gaines held the top editing jobs at Time and People magazines. In more recent years, he was managing editor of The Daily (News Corp's now defunct iPad paper) and Americas editor at Reuters.

-- News on the home front: Our colleague Peter Sterne, a media reporter at POLITICO and occasional Morning Media contributor, is leaving for a new job at the Freedom of the Press Foundation, where he'll be the main reporter working on a website scheduled to debut later this summer that will track press freedom incidents in the U.S. (More on that here.) Congrats, Peter!

-- The Village Voice is bringing media coverage back to its pages in the tradition of Jim Ledbetter, Cynthia Cotts and other veterans of the weekly newspaper's old "Press Clips" franchise. Who better to write for them than Tom McGeveran, former editor of this newsletter and former media editor at POLITICO and The New York Observer, among other esteemed designations. No formalized contributor role as of yet, but we can confirm he's got some pieces in the works, starting with...

WHY SPICER'S A SURVIVOR - "In a White House that has made beating up the fourth estate official policy, Spicer, along with a number of other press officers and anonymous officials, gives reporters what they need (the getting on the phone part) while giving his bosses what they want (the yelling part)," McGeveran writes in the Voice . "[H]ow many people can stand at a podium and tell the world that our president's positions never change -- it's the rest of the world that changes? ... The president switches his position overnight, Spicer gives his non-explanation. Reporters can write their dispatches ... without worrying that they need to seriously account for Spicer's comments. McCarthy then makes fun of it all on Saturday Night Live. Even the president gets what he requires, and why should he want more?"

JAKE TAPPER PRIMETIME TEST - Variety's Brian Steinberg reports: "Tapper, who anchors 'The Lead' at 4 p.m. for CNN on weekdays and the Sunday politics program 'State of the Union,' will tackle an extra hour next week. CNN aired promos last night touting a series of 9 p.m. 'Lead' broadcasts slated to take place during the week of April 24th. During those primetime broadcasts, Tapper is expected to examine President Trump's first 100 days in office as part of a series of special reports that will lead into weekend programming."

SOUNDTRACK: Sonic Youth, "Tunic (Song For Karen)"

EXTRAS:

-- Under Roger Ailes, Fox News "retained the services of a now-defunct public relations firm called New Media Strategies to create and operate a series of homespun-looking websites designed to market women who worked as hosts or correspondents in a manner that can only be described as overtly sexist." [Salon]

-- There's a new slate of new podcasts from Jezebel, Fusion, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Deadspin and The A.V. Club. [Fusion Media Group]

-- The millennial online business news streaming network Cheddar is partnering with Dunkin Donuts to give out free digital antennas in a ploy to see if Cheddar's target audience will watch on free-to-air broadcast stations. [Bloomberg]

-- Men's Health is retooling under new EIC Matt Bean. [WWD]

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/media/tipsheets/morning-media/2017/04/oreillys-not-going-down-without-a-fight-shattered-buzz-blitz-spicer-the-survivor-001259

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