Bill O'Reilly Ousted From Fox News
Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News. The host of “The O’Reilly Factor” saw his career of more than 20 years at the right-leaning network come to a sudden halt Wednesday, when network executives announced he had been fired.
O’Reilly’s fate was decided a day before a board meeting was slated at 21st Century Fox, which owns Fox News. Recent allegations of sexual misconduct against the veteran broadcaster had been on the agenda as one of the board’s discussion topics. An April 1 report by The New York Times detailed those claims and examined the hefty payouts Fox and O’Reilly had made to five women in exchange for those women remaining silent and agreeing to drop their cases.
“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 said in a statement.
Roger Ailes, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Fox News, was forced from his position last year after several charges of sexual harassment against him made headlines.
Then came the backlash against O’Reilly — as well as a ratings spike for the most-watched news show on any cable network. What finally tipped the balance came down to cold, hard cash. Although O’Reilly had been hit with similar accusations in the past, this time a robust lineup of advertisers pulled their sponsorship in response to the Times’ revelations.
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.
President Donald Trump — another male media titan familiar with the legalities of sexual harassment claims — came to O’Reilly’s defense earlier this month, but the president’s backing was no match for the fallout caused by the mass exodus of corporate sponsors.
For his part, O’Reilly had been on an impromptu Italian vacation as the controversy built up and blew up. As word of his new free-agent status spread, O’Reilly was photographed shaking hands with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. The New York Times was at the ready to cover the occasion.
–Posted by Kasia Anderson