In the wake of controversy, Fox News removed longtime host Bill O’Reilly from the network, and canceled his show The O’Reilly Factor.
The move comes just one day after an anonymous woman accused O’Reilly of sexual and racial harassment. A few weeks prior, reports surfaced that Fox News has paid out $13 million in settlements due to other sexual harassment claims made against O’Reilly.
The Murdoch family met in meetings throughout the week to discuss the future of O’Reilly, and they ultimately decided to end his tenure at the news network.
O’Reilly’s termination was announced in a statement to employees by 21st Century Fox on Wednesday. It said that after reviewing the situation and the surrounding allegations, the company and O’Reilly agreed to part ways.
O’Reilly, who was on vacation in Italy and on his way back home when the news broke, said in a statement that he is thankful for his time at Fox News. He added that it’s unfortunate he lost his job “due to unfounded claims.”
The TV host got his start on Inside Edition in 1989 as its anchor. Then in 1996, O’Reilly started working for Fox News and was tasked with anchoring a new TV show, The O’Reilly Report (it would later be renamed to The O’Reilly Factor).
On the first episode of O’Reilly’s show after the separation was announced, guest host Dana Perino led off by acknowledging the elephant in the room. She said on the show, now dubbed as just The Factor, that the situation has led to many mixed feelings from O’Reilly’s “loyal viewers.” She ended the episode by calling it the “end of an era” after lasting more than 20 years.
Now, O’Reilly’s time with the news channel has come to an abrupt end.
Here’s what you need to know about the network letting O’Reilly go:
1. Fox News & O’Reilly Have Reportedly Settled 5 Sexual Harassment Cases
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, O’Reilly and Fox News settled five sexual harassment claims for over $13 million.
The bombshell report said that Fox News would stand by its man. As The New York Times wrote, five total women have received payouts from the two parties “in exchange for agreeing not to pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him.”
The Times said that all of the women who accused O’Reilly of the sexual harassment either worked for him or were guests on his show. The accusations include lewd comments, unwanted advances and “phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating,” documents obtained by The Times allege.
In an interview with The O’Reilly Factor guest Wendy Walsh, The Times wrote that Walsh didn’t receive any more invitations to appear on the show after she turned down an offer to go to his hotel room.
In a statement issued by O’Reilly after the accusations were revealed, he said that as a “prominent” figure in the media, he is as vulnerable as anyone else to accusations and lawsuits. He noted that there had been no incidents of the women coming forward to Fox News’ human resources department.
Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline. But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.
2. Over 50 Advertisers Pulled Spots Set to Run On Fox NewsOne would figure that a big reason Fox News ultimately decided to rid itself of O’Reilly is because of the growing list of companies pulling their advertisements.
The tally of companies that have yanked advertisements from O’Reilly’s show stretches well over 50.
ABC News reported the list of companies that are no longer advertising during “The O’Reilly Factor.” Those companies include T. Rowe Price, Lexus and Bayer. Read the full list of advertisers below:
Ainsworth Pet Nutrition/Rachael Ray Nutrish
The Wonderful Company
Society of Human Resources Management
With even more pressure placed on it, Fox News issued a statement saying that it “values” those that advertise with it and were evaluating a plan to make sure all was right.
We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about ‘The O’Reilly Factor.’ At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.
3. O’Reilly Was Accused & Denied Claims of Domestic Abuse Against His Ex-Wife During a Custody Battle He LostO’Reilly’s 20-plus years with Fox News haven’t come without additional controversy.
In 2004, O’Reilly filed a lawsuit against a former The O’Reilly Factor producer, Andrea Mackris. He alleged that Mackris had committed extortion when she threatened to file a lawsuit against him unless he paid her more than $60 million due to sexual harassment allegations.
Hours after O’Reilly filed his suit, Mackris sued him seeking $60 million in damages. The complaint alleged that the TV host “advised her to use a vibrator and told her about sexual fantasies involving her” in phone conversations.
Eventually, the two settled out of court, with The New York Times reporting that the settlement was around $9 million.
In May 2015, court documents from O’Reilly’s child custody battle with his ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy alleged domestic violence was committed in their home. The couples’ daughter allegedly told an investigator that she saw her dad choking her mom and “dragging her down the stairs unaware that she was watching.”
4. In March, O’Reilly Called Made a Controversial Comment About a Black Representative’s HairPrior to the sexual harassment accusations and settlements being revealed, O’Reilly found himself backtracking on a controversial statement he made about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California).
It happened on an episode of Fox & Friends, and O’Reilly laid into Waters’ speech on the floor in the House of Representatives.
O’Reilly said he “didn’t hear a word she said” in her speech. Instead, O’Reilly joked that he “was looking at the James Brown wig” on her head. He reiterated his remarks, saying “if we have a picture of James Brown — it’s the same wig.”
The remarks received harsh criticism on social media and in the political community, accusing O’Reilly of being racist and sexist.
After the backlash, O’Reilly apologized for the “wig” remark about Waters. He issued a statement to media shortly after.
As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs. I said that again today on Fox & Friends calling her ‘old school.’ Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologize.
Waters also responded to O’Reilly’s attack on Twitter, saying that she “isn’t going anywhere.”
After news of O’Reilly’s exit from the network, Waters chimed in once again on Twitter, saying there will soon be a day when “rich men” won’t be able to “buy their way out” of similar harassment allegations.
5. Fox News Is Also Being Sued by 3 Women Accusing it Of Racial Discrimination & Its Former Chairman Was Accused of AssaultThese aren’t the first accusations against Fox News alleging sexual harassment pr racial discrimination.
In March, two black employees at Fox News in New York City filed a lawsuit against the company in New York State Supreme Court in Bronx County.
The plaintiffs in the case, Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright accuse a white female supervisor at Fox News of making racist and stereotypical remarks for years. Now, a third employee has come forward to join the lawsuit. Monica Douglas, a manager for credit collectors at Fox News, also alleged that a supervisor discriminated against her in the workplace.
The lawsuit is seeking damages for “the appalling racial discrimination which they suffered while employed by Fox,” the complaint filed to the N.Y. Supreme Court said. It stems from executives at Fox News being aware of the discrimination but “doing nothing to put an end to it and intentionally turning a blind eye,” the complaint alleges.
For the full 30-page complaint filed with the Supreme Court, read the document below:
In July 2016, chairman and CEO Roger Ailes resigned from the position after an internal investigation. Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson alleged that Ailes sexually harassed her numerous times while she worked for the company.
Investigators into the matter interviewed former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who was reportedly part of a “small group of employees who resisted a campaign to rally support for Mr. Ailes,” The New York Times wrote.
Since the lawsuit was filed, about 10 women came forward with stories of inappropriate conduct performed by Ailes. He was replaced as the head of the company by Rupert Murdoch.
Ailes wrote in a letter to Murdoch how he didn’t want to become a distraction at the company.
Having spent 20 years building this historic business, I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business continue to lead our industry