Bill O’Reilly Out At Fox News Channel
After a series of new allegations regarding sexual harassment and a rather highly effective campaign to get advertisers to boycott his show, Fox News Channel has parted ways with Bill O’Reilly, the top-rated host on cable news:
Bill O’Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host on Fox News, the company said on Wednesday, after the disclosure of multiple settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His ouster brings an abrupt and embarrassing end to his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television.
“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,” 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, said in a statement.
Mr. O’Reilly’s departure comes two and a half weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly even as sexual harassment allegations piled up against him. The Times found that the company and Mr. O’Reilly reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.
Since then, more than 50 advertisers had abandoned his show, and women’s rights groups called for his ouster. Inside the company, women expressed outrage and questioned whether top executives were serious about maintaining a culture based on “trust and respect,” as they had promised last summer when another sexual harassment scandal forced the ouster of Fox News’s chairman, Roger Ailes.
That put pressure on 21st Century Fox and the Murdoch family that controlled it. After the dismissal of Mr. Ailes, the company struck two settlements involving sexual harassment complaints against Mr. O’Reilly and also extended his contract, even as it was aware of the complaints about his behavior.
Last week, the Murdochs enlisted the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an investigation into Mr. O’Reilly’s behavior after one woman, who had detailed her allegations against Mr. O’Reilly to The Times, called the company’s hotline to report her complaints. Another complaint was reported on Tuesday, according to the lawyer who represents the woman making the allegations.
Mr. O’Reilly has denied the allegations against him.
This news comes less than a year after Fox News was faced with the scandal involving sexual harassment allegations, as well as a lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson that was ultimately settled for $20,000,000, against Roger Ailes that ultimately led to his ouster from the company by the time triumvirate of Murdoch’s that decided to part ways with O’Reilly this week. As with Ailes, the decision to part ways with O’Reilly is big news not only because the host has been with the network literally since the day it launched on October 7, 1996, when O’Reilly hosted a show called The O’Reilly Report that was eventually renamed The O’Reilly Factor. Before long, O’Reilly’s audience grew along with Fox News Channel’s to the point where O’Reilly was, bar none, the most watched host of any regularly scheduled program on any of the three cable news networks. O’Reilly’s status at the network was second only to Ailes himself, and his salary only increased each time it came up for renewal notwithstanding criticism that the network often faced for the content of some of his monologs or the manner in which her frequently treated guests who disagreed with him. Over the years, though, there were also allegations of improper conduct on O’Reilly’s part toward women and rumors of under-the-table settlement payments by O’Reilly or the network to women who complained of the way that the host acted toward female guests and co-workers. Once the allegations against Ailes came out, though, it seemed as though the floodgates had opened. Several more women came forward to allege improper behavior on O’Reilly’s part, including threats of professional retribution toward women who refused his sexual advances in much the same manner that Ailes apparently acted during his tenure at the network. Just yesterday, a seventh woman came forward to allege that she had been sexually
Over the years, though, there were also allegations of improper conduct on O’Reilly’s part toward women and rumors of under-the-table settlement payments by O’Reilly or the network to women who complained of the way that the host acted toward female guests and co-workers. Once the allegations against Ailes came out, though, it seemed as though the floodgates had opened. Several more women came forward to allege improper behavior on O’Reilly’s part, including threats of professional retribution toward women who refused his sexual advances in much the same manner that Ailes apparently acted during his tenure at the network. Just yesterday, a seventh woman came forward to allege that she had been sexually harassed by O’Reilly while working at Fox News. Before that, there had been rumors that Rupert Murdoch, the head parent company News Corporation, and his two sons were looking for options to part ways with the host, rumors that came just before O’Reilly signed off on his show for the last time a week and a half ago before what was claimed to be a pre-planned vacation. Apparently, the Murdoch’s used the opportunity of O’Reilly’s absence to force him out for good.
All of this will, of course, require a significant schedule change at Fox News Channel, and that was announced virtually simultaneously with the news about O’Reilly’s departure:
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) April 19, 2017
Carlson had already taken over for Megyn Kelly at her old 9pm slot after she left the network for NBC News earlier this, so that time shift isn’t all that surprising, although it will be interesting to see if Carlson is able to sustain even a fraction of O’Reilly’s ratings, which had been winning the time slot among cable news networks for years. The other shows are shifts of shows that are on earlier in the evening or late afternoon, some of them representing changes that have taken place at the network since the departure of Ailes in July.
In any case, there’s no need to feel sorry for O’Reilly. He’s made millions of dollars over the twenty-one years he’s been with the network and will likely receive a significant buyout of his current contract as part of his departure from the network. What he does after this, though, is another question.