In a statement, Fox said: “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 Fox News Channel.”
But, in an internal memo to staffers, Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James, said the decision was made in collaboration with outside counsel.
The company’s stunning decision to remove the host of Fox New Channel’s flagship program The O’Reilly Factor comes in the wake of an April 1New York Times report that O’Reilly and Fox news Network paid nearly $13M to settle cases with five women going back 15 years. Since that report, two more women have claimed publicly that O’Reilly harassed them years ago.
Dozens of advertisers pulled their spots from The Factor upon publication of that NYT report. The latest tally of lost advertisers stood at 90. O’Reilly has been off air since April 11, when he announced he was taking a vacation, as he had at the same time last year.
O’Reilly recently signed a new multi-year contract valued at about $20M million per year. When Fox News chairman and CEO Ailes left Fox News last summer amid charges of sexual harassment, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, which was the remainder of his contract.
The O’Reilly Factor has been the most-watched program in the cable news landscape for 14 years, recently clocking its highest-rated quarter ever. O’Reilly’s sudden exit is the latest blow to a network dogged by sexual harassment related staff exit.
Nine months ago, CEO Ailes resigned in disgrace after several sexual harassment claims were levelled against him and he was sued by former Fox & Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose contract was not renewed.
More recently, Megyn Kelly departed for NBC News; O’Reilly is said to have contributed to her decision to leave, when he publicly dissed her on CBS This Morning for writing about having been among the female staffers allegedly harassed by Ailes in her newly released book ‘Settle For More’. Kelly was unhappy with O’Reilly’s comments on the CBS News program, and displeased with Fox execs’ action or was it inaction to her complaint about his remarks.
This week, on Tuesday, O’Reilly’s attorney issued a statement saying his client has been “subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyism America,” and promising to present “irrefutable” evidence the campaign is being orchestrated by “far-left organizations” bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons.
Tucker Carlson has been appointed O'Reilly's replacement on the news programme.