According to reports from several sources, disgraced anchor Bill O’Reilly, who was recently removed from his Fox News post after several allegations of sexual harassment, may receive up to $25 million in a severance package. NBC News reports that the eight-figure sum is the equivalent of one year of O’Reilly’s previous four-year contract.
O’Reilly, a Fox News contributor since 1996 (and the highest rated host in cable television), has bared the brunt of public scrutiny of Fox companies in recent weeks after details of five sexual harassment claims against him were revealed. Reports indicate that although the 67-year-old, with the financial aid of 21st Century Fox, settled all of the cases, sans court, for a whopping $13 million some time ago, many felt Fox was just too supportive of the anchor. If records are any indication of the company’s support, the claims don’t appear to be unfounded.
Sources assert that while more than 50 sponsors of O’Reilly’s prime time show severed contracts with the company, and many thousands of regular viewers stopped tuning in, the Fox corporation staunchly stood by its employee. In fact, these same sources even claim that, despite additional allegations from other women surfacing, Fox never left the accused’s side.
When the Murdoch family (owners of parent company 21st Century Fox) finally did decide to oust the host, he seemed to take it in stride. In a statement, O’Reilly indicated that he wished “only the best for Fox News Channel,” adding that while it was “disheartening” to “part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” he would look back on his time with the company and cherish their success together.
After his dismissal, reports state that women’s rights activists and even some of the company’s own employees lauded the decision by Fox as a sign that the corporation was making steps to take sexual harassment as seriously as it should be taken.
However, sources claim the new reports of Fox News’ hefty severance package for O’Reilly have aroused suspicions from several parties that the removal of the host was more a means to pacify the public than an assertion of guilt. With a considerable fortune of $85 million, critics claim O’Reilly surely doesn’t need the extra $25 million. They also claim that, with O’Reilly’s contract now terminated, there’s no way Fox can still owe him so much money. Some sources claim the company could be paying the anchor out as a means of apology. Per a CNBC report, the Murdoch family praised O’Reilly’s many accomplishments in a company memo on Wednesday.
“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.”
But other reports indicate that the Fox News corporation actually does owe O’Reilly all of the $25 million. According to CNN, the contract between the two, signed in March of this year, was meant to extend until at least 2020, and a significant portion of that money was guaranteed. Allegedly, after hearing of the investigation into claims against O’Reilly, the contract was, however, reworked to include a way out for Fox if necessary. Needless to say, if accurate, the last minute decision came in handy for the billion dollar company’s checkbook. With both O’Reilly’s contract and the terms of his payout strictly confidential, though, it’s hard to say exactly why the payment is what it is.
Many may remember that just last summer, the former CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, was also pushed out after allegations of harassment. The company parted ways with the 76-year-old for a cool $40 million.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]