Bill O’Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host at Fox News, the company said on Wednesday, after the disclosure of settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His abrupt and embarrassing ouster ends his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television.
(The Washington Post) -- “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, the parent company of Fox News, said in a statement.
Mr. O’Reilly is departing 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 him even as sexual harassment allegations against him mounted. The Times found that the company and Mr. O’Reilly had 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 had 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 led to the ouster of Roger E. Ailes as chairman of Fox News.
That put pressure on 21st Century Fox and the Murdoch family, which controls the company. After the dismissal of Mr. Ailes, the company struck two settlements involving sexual harassment complaints against Mr. O’Reilly and extended his contract.
Last week, the Murdochs enlisted the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to investigate Mr. O’Reilly’s behavior after one woman who had related complaints against Mr. O’Reilly to The Times called the Fox hotline to report her allegations. Since then, other complaints have been lodged, including one on Wednesday by a current Fox News contributor who said Mr. O’Reilly made inappropriate comments to her and encouraged her to show more cleavage at work.
Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Ailes have denied the allegations against them.
Mr. O’Reilly, 67, has been an anchor at Fox News since he started at the network in 1996. He was the top-rated host in cable news, delivering defiant commentary every weeknight with a message that celebrated patriotism and expressed scorn for political correctness. His departure is a significant blow to the Fox News lineup, which dominated the prime-time cable news ratings. In January, the lineup lost another star, Megyn Kelly.