In 2008, Nolan protested a decision by the Boston/New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to present Fox News Channel anchor Bill O’Reilly with the organization’s Governors Award.
Nolan protested by handing out fliers and dressing down at the traditionally black-tie dinner, leaving as O’Reilly went up to accept his ward.
Just a few days later, he was fired.
CJR‘s Terry Ann Knopf digs into the court filings, and comes up with documents that seem to indicate that O’Reilly pressured Comcast into firing Nolan.
On May 12, 2008-two days after the Emmys-O’Reilly went on the offensive against what he called Nolan’s “outrageous behavior” with a carefully worded, lawyerly letter to Brian Roberts, the chairman and CEO of Comcast, which distributes Fox News and entertainment programming, to its subscribers. The letter was written on Fox News stationery and was copied to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.
Pointedly, O’Reilly began by noting their mutual business interests. “We at The O’Reilly Factor have always considered Comcast to be an excellent business partner and I believe the same holds true for the entire Fox News Channel. Therefore, it was puzzling to see a Comcast employee, Barry Nolan, use Comcast corporate assets to attack me and FNC.”
Other documents indicate that Comcast was in the midst of negotiations with Fox News at the time, and that the company believed his protest “jeopardized and harmed the business and economic interests of Comcast in connection with its contract with Fox News Channel.”
The story also touches upon the fact that Comcast is in the midst of acquiring NBC Universal, which owns NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC.