21st Century Fox announced on Wednesday that its relationship with Bill O’Reilly will end, following a “thorough and careful review” of the allegations levied against him.
Fierce criticism had been targeted at Fox following a New York Times investigation against top-grossing talk-show host Bill O’Reilly. The Times revealed that, over the course of the past decade, the network had been involved in five legal settlements stemming from claims that O’Reilly had sexually harassed his female colleagues as well as guests on his show, The O’Reilly Factor. In total, O’Reilly and his employers paid out over $13 million.
The announcement of O’Reilly’s farewell comes after a multitude of advertisers abandoned The O’Reilly Factor. Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai, GlaxonSmithKline, and a number of other large corporations pulled commercials from the program after news of the settlements broke.
While Fox’s initial response to the scandal was somewhat ambiguous, its leadership began a probe into O’Reilly as public interest in the Times reported increased. Fox brought in a law firm to assist in an investigation. However, the network made sure to note that, in the many years The O’Reilly Factor aired, no harassment complaints had been made against its eponymous host.
Attempting to cover for O’Reilly only angered the network’s critics, who claim Fox’s corporate culture doesn’t adequately accommodate women.
Its former chairman, Roger Ailes, resigned in 2016 amid similar accusations. Gretchen Carlson, who left Fox last year, filed a sexual harassment claim against Ailes immediately following her departure from the network. Six other women followed suit in lodging complaints against the chairman, saying Ailes routinely demanded sexual favors in exchange for promotions and career advancement opportunities.
O’Reilly’s accusers said he engaged in the same sort of sexual leveraging as Ailes. One woman, a guest on The O’Reilly Factor¸ said the he’d offered her career advice and a possible full-time spot with Fox during a business dinner. After the meeting, he invited her to his room.
When she declined, she said O’Reilly withdrew the offer of a full-time spot.
Others said the primetime host, renowned for his aggressive style of questioning, frequently passed lewd remarks to female staff. Another woman said he’d called her while apparently masturbating.
CNN reported after O’Reilly’s firing that high-level sources at Fox indicated the television personality hadn’t been popular among his colleagues, subordinates, and superiors alike.
21st Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch issued a short and terse statement confirming O’Reilly and Fox’s mutual severance on Wednesday.
“After a thorough and careful review of allegations against him, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Mr. O’Reilly will not return to the Fox News Channel.”
In the concluding paragraph of the half-page letter, Murdoch wrote, “Lastly, and most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”