Bill O’Reilly has been officially ousted from Fox News in the wake of several sexual harassment allegations, ending his 20-year career as a host on the network.
“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 on Wednesday.
In a brief memo to staff, 21st Century Fox heads Rupert, Lachlan, and James Murdoch wrote that O’Reilly’s ouster “follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel.” They continued:
By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable. Fox News has demonstrated again and again the strength of its talent bench. We have full confidence that the network will continue to be a powerhouse in cable news. Lastly, and most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.
Earlier reports this week suggested that the “vacation” O’Reilly is currently taking was a convenient precursor to a final goodbye. Pressure on the network to fire the right-wing commentator has been mounting over the past two weeks, since the New York Times published details of the $13 million Fox News had paid out to employees O’Reilly allegedly harassed. The article also contained new allegations from women who never sought or received settlements from the network.
The report gave further credence to a developing image of Fox News as a haven for sexual predators, with leaders who would rather spend tens of millions of dollars hushing up alleged victims of workplace abuse than make their company a safe place for women to work. In response, dozens of advertisers pulled their spots from The O’Reilly Factor, leaving the show with fewer ads from increasingly unrecognizable companies. Sleeping Giant, an activist group that previously shepherded an advertising boycott of racist right-wing blog Breitbart, encouraged Twitter users to pressure companies to stop airing commercials on O’Reilly’s show.
The resulting drop in advertising revenue must have changed the established harassment calculus of Fox News, which has for years seemed to have no problem paying its way out of the host’s past harassment allegations. It was worth at least $13 million extra to keep an alleged repeat abuser on staff, but apparently it wasn’t worth whatever projected loss might have resulted from this latest turn of public opinion against him. For O’Reilly, whose latest book is Amazon’s current No. 1 best-seller in political commentary, the loss of his longtime gig will be a blip on his tax returns and ammo for his next tirade against women who “target” famous men with bogus sexual harassment suits.