Bill O'Reilly ousted at Fox after sexual harassment investigation
Conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly has been dropped from the Fox News Channel's lineup following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations. USA TODAY
Conservative megastar talk show host Bill O'Reilly has been dropped from the Fox News Channel lineup following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, 21st Century Fox said Wednesday.
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” Fox's parent company said in a brief statement.
The abrupt dismissal ends O'Reilly's 21 years at the helm of The O'Reilly Factor, which started as The O'Reilly Report when the fledgling network began in 1996. He proved a steady ratings winner for the network over two decades and top ad generator, but also a lightning rod for controversy.
O'Reilly, 67, who recently signed a new multi-year contract worth more than $20 million a year, has been on vacation and was scheduled to return to the air Monday. "It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today," he said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
"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," he said.
In a message to employees, Rupert Murdoch and sons, James and Lachlan, who run 21st Century Fox, said the decision follows "an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel."
While confirming O'Reilly's ouster, the note was also full of praise for his success. "By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news," the Murdochs wrote. "In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable.
"Fox News has demonstrated again and again the strength of its talent bench. We have full confidence that the network will continue to be a powerhouse in cable news."
In a nod to the current Fox News staff, which has undergone extensive turmoil with the ouster last year of chairman and CEO Roger Ailes — and now O'Reilly — over allegations of sexual impropriety, the Murdochs said they wanted to "underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect."
Before issuing his statement, the embattled newsman surfaced briefly in Rome, during his Italian vacation, where he shook hands with Pope Francis, who regularly ends his weekly audience by swinging by the VIP seats for a quick round of short greetings.
O'Reilly had steadfastly denied allegations of sexual impropriety and earlier this week his attorney, Marc Kasowitz said: "There is obviously an orchestrated campaign by activists and lawyers to destroy Mr. O’Reilly and enrich themselves through publicity-driven donations.”
O'Reilly will be replaced in the coveted 8 p.m. ET time slot by Tucker Carlson, whose current show is being moved up an hour. The 9 p.m. slot will go to The Five, relocating from its afternoon slot. The O'Reilly Factor will run through the end of the week with substitute hosts.
The New York Times has uncovered once more, alarming information about Bill O’Reilly and his sexual harassment allegations. Susana Victoria Perez (@susana_vp) has more. Buzz60
There’s a new feud in the Twittersphere. And it does not include President Donald Trump. Surprisingly. But it does involve one of his friends… Bill O’ Reilly. Buzz60
Bill O’Reilly’s ex-wife reportedly claimed in an affidavit that he slammed her into a wall and dragged her down a staircase several years ago. Veuer's Nick Cardona has more. Buzz60
It’s official. Bill O'Reilly has had his last show on Fox News. Time
Bill O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. (April 19) AP
A new report from 'New York Magazine' suggests that Bill O'Reilly may not return to Fox. USA TODAY
O'Reilly has denied the harassment claims have merit. Time
Bill O’Reilly has announced he’s going on hiatus in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal. Susana Victoria Perez (@susana_vp) has more. Buzz60
After months of mocking President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin turned his acerbic sights on Bill O'Reilly over the weekend, while pulling double duty as Trump in the same sketch. USA TODAY
Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor" saw a significant drop in advertisements Thursday night. Veuer's Nick Cardona (@nickcardona93) has that story. Buzz60
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly may have fired first at California Congresswoman Maxine Waters. But now Waters is not holding back and saying O’Reilly needs to go to jail. Susana Victoria Perez (@susana_vp) has more. Buzz60
Fox News and Bill O’Reilly have reportedly paid out about $13 million in sexual harassment and verbal abuse settlements. Maria Mercedes Galuppo (@mariamgaluppo) has more. Buzz60
- NYT: Fox renewed O’Reilly contract after he settled harassment claims
- CNN's Jake Tapper shades Bill O’Reilly over ratings jab
- Bill O'Reilly's ex-wife accused him of abuse in alleged affidavit
- Fox News has decided to let go of Bill O’Reilly
- Bill O'Reilly out at Fox News
- Bill O'Reilly not returning to Fox?
- Bill O'Reilly protest outside Fox News headquarters in NYC
- Bill O’Reilly announces vacation amid sexual harassment controversy
- Alec Baldwin embodies Bill O'Reilly and Trump on SNL
- More trouble for Fox host Bill O'Reilly
- Congresswoman Waters: 'Bill O’Reilly needs to go to jail'
- Fox News & Bill O’Reilly reportedly paid $13M in harassment settlement
Lisa Bloom, an attorney for three O'Reilly accusers, issued a "victory statement," saying, "This is what happens when women speak our truth: we can slay dragons."
"Fox News should have fired him in 2004 when the first complaint was made, but at least they did it now," she said. "They did it because we persisted."
The blunt, loud-talking O'Reilly weathered controversy in the past, including other allegations of sexual impropriety, but the latest round hit the Fox news empire in the pocketbook as more than more than 50 top-drawer companies pulled ads from the show.
The ad revolt followed a scathing article in The New York Times that reported O'Reilly or the company made payouts totaling about $13 million to five woman involving allegations of inappropriate behavior by him over several years.
In addition, two more women surfaced with new charges against O'Reilly.
Although O'Reilly's viewerships increased during the controversy, the ad revenue loss and the steady drumbeat of negative publicity proved too much for the Murdochs who control the Fox empire.
In a protest Tuesday outside the Fox News headquarters in Manhattan, survivors of sexual assault and harassment, as well as members of the women's advocacy group UltraViolet, called for O'Reilly's dismissal. Planes flew overhead with banners attached that read, "FOX: #DROPOREILLY, THE SEXUAL PREDATOR."
Gabriel Sherman, a long-time O'Reilly-watcher at New York magazine, reported Wednesday before the announcement that Fox executives were in final negotiations with O'Reilly, mainly over the timing of an statement and whether he would be allowed to say goodbye to his audience.
The decision to break with O'Reilly follows an investigation ordered by Fox into allegations of sexual impropriety. The probe was conducted by the same law firm that looked into sexual harassment charges against Ailes, who denied the allegations but resigned last year in a $40 million separation agreement with the media company.
An African-American woman who was a clerical worker at Fox in 2008 lodged the most recent allegation against O'Reilly, according to Bloom, her lawyer. The woman, speaking anonymously through her lawyer, said she never had a direct conversation with the Fox commentator, but said he referred to her as “hot chocolate” at one point when they were together alone, made grunting noises and leered at her cleavage and legs.
The woman reported being “very stressed and disillusioned” about her job and believed she would be fired if she complained to anyone, according to Bloom, but did report her allegations to Fox's anonymous hotline.
Kasowitz, O'Reilly's attorney, said Tuesday it was "outrageous" that the latest allegation was being treated as fact despite coming from an anonymous person almost a decade ago.
Andrew Tyndall, TV news analyst of The Tyndall Report, says O’Reilly’s enduring popularity could still entice other networks to make him an offer though his age could be a factor in his decision.
“(If commits to another TV network), it’ll be a five to seven year commitment for him” Tyndall said. “But if he decides to get revenge on the Murdochs, he’ll be formidable. You can build an entire primetime lineup around him.”
While he’s had a radio show, O’Reilly’s persona is uniquely suited to TV, Tyndall says. “And I think his audience is too old for online. It’ll have to be television to make it work. But he’s a big-enough name.”
Contributing: Roger Yu in Mclean, Va.