Just two weeks ago it was reported that advertisers were rushing to pull their promotions from “The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News’ primetime hit with conservative firebrand Bill O’Reilly after accusations of sexual assault and harassment had been leveled against the pundit. The catalyst for the advertisers’ departure was The New York Times article about a $13 million settlement paid out by Fox News and O’Reilly personally to five women who had filed claims of inappropriate conduct against O’Reilly. For the most-watched cable news host for 15 years straight, this was a disastrous development, and he decided to take some vacation time to step out of the media spotlight for a while. What was meant to be a week-long break, however, now will be extended permanently, as Fox News announced earlier today that they will severe ties with the pundit. “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,” read a statement from Fox parent company, 21st Century Fox.
Outlets including The Wall Street Journal and The Drudge Report wrote last night that O’Reilly was on his way out of Fox News, inevitably due to the inability of the network to sell advertisements on his primetime show amid the sexual harassment allegations. Additionally, attorney Lisa Bloom announced earlier in the day that she was taking on the case of a sixth woman who claimed she was harassed by O’Reilly, inevitably cementing the plan to oust the host that was surely in the works for some time now.
The Washington Post reports that Fox News was concerned with its reputation of being hostile toward women after its Chairman Roger Ailes left the network amid sexual assault accusations over the summer, and they could not suffer another public incident of similar nature. “As of Monday, the Fox affiliate in Boston, the nation's ninth-largest media market, will change the name of its local newscast from “Fox 25 News” to “Boston 25 News” because it considers the Fox brand a liability,” they wrote earlier today.
Interestingly, this issue may even make its way all the way up to the White House, as Trump said immediately after The New York Times report about the major settlement that he thought Bill O’Reilly had not done anything wrong and that he supported him, despite the allegations. With Fox News’ decision to push O’Reilly out, this indicates that the pundit likely did commit the acts of which he was accused, and we are yet to see Trump signal that he has changed his take on the matter.
While the network executives were expected to hold an official meeting on Thursday to deliberate on the fate of its top host, the statement released today indicates that the network was inevitably feeling the public pressure surrounding the allegations, including that put forward by protesters who stationed in front of the New York Fox studio to lambast O'Reilly and the network for keeping him on the air.
The time-slot currently occupied by O’Reilly’s hit show will be filled by Tucker Carlson’s discussion program, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Are you surprised that O’Reilly was ousted from Fox?