Fox News announced Wednesday that primetime show host Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the network. Multiple allegations of sexual harassment made against O’Reilly and the out-of-court settlements that followed were the focus of a New York Times report in early April. The Times revealed that Fox continued to employ the host of “The Factor” even after numerous allegations had been made by at least five different woman. The company and O’Reilly paid settlements of around $13 million to the women who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment in the workplace and other inappropriate behaviors.
Since the Time’s report, more than 50 advertisers pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s primetime show. More questions about the culture at Fox news have also arisen. The news about O’Reilly comes less than a year after the sexual harassment scandal that forced out Roger Ailes, the co-founder and then-chairman of Fox news. Even after the Ailes scandal, the Murdoch family through their company, 21st Century Fox, were willing to settle two sexual harassment complaints against O’Reilly and extend his contract.
Bill O’Reilly “Disheartened”
On Tuesday, the Times reported that O’Reilly’s fate would no doubt be discussed at the upcoming board meeting of Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox. However, even before that meeting took place, Fox made the announcement of O’Reilly’s dismissal. The Murdochs enlisted the high-profile law of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to investigate O’Reilly’s behavior and the claims against him.
The 67-yeard old O’Reilly continues to deny any allegations of wrongdoing and made this statement Wednesday: “Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television. It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of use in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”
Bill O’Reilly received the news of his termination while waiting for a flight back to the U.S. after vacationing in Italy. Spokespersons for the cable news host reported he was “resigned” to his exit.