Bill O’Reilly could be in growing danger of being fired, with new pressures on Fox News to release the right-wing host amid a growing sexual harassment scandal.
Fox News is just months removed from the ousting of chairman Roger Ailes amid many allegations that he pressured female colleagues into sexual relationships and now may have another major scandal with Bill O’Reilly. Last week, the New York Times reported that O’Reilly and Fox News paid out a total of $13 million to settle sexual harassment allegations from a number of different women made against O’Reilly.
“An investigation by the New York Times has found a total of five women who have received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him. The agreements totaled about $13 million,” the report noted.
At the time, Bill O’Reilly responded that he was targeted for monetary reasons.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” O’Reilly said (via the Boston Herald).
But the scandal has not died down, and a number of individuals and organizations are now calling on Fox News to fire Bill O’Reilly. On Tuesday, the National Organization for Women called for Bill O’Reilly to be fired and for an independent investigation into the culture at Fox News.
“On the heels of Roger Ailes’ shameful removal from Fox News, following similar sexual harassment claims, Mr. O’Reilly’s case is part of a larger culture that condones the harassment and objectification of women at Fox News. Men like Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Ailes will never be stopped as long as their behavior is allowed to continue, even supported, by their employer.”
The pressures to fire Bill O’Reilly are now financial as well. There has been a wave of advertisers pulling support, with some outside groups now pressuring these advertisers. As the New York Times reported, the advocacy group Color of Change is running a campaign to call on advertisers to pull their support of Bill O’Reilly.
The O’Reilly Factor, which draws almost four million viewers a night, generated more than $446 million in advertising revenue from 2014 through 2016, according to the research firm Kantar Media.
Fox News was facing a major advertising revolt after sexual harassment claims against Bill O’Reilly https://t.co/PKZ8Hchi7W— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 5, 2017
“Their money and support is keeping him on the air,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of the organization.
“It is rewarding his actions. It is rewarding the damage he has done to people in their lives and their careers.”
The pressure appears to be growing quickly, with a total of 17 companies now pulling back advertising by Tuesday night and the total quickly creeping upward.
While it’s not clear if 21st Century Fox has any plans to actually fire Bill O’Reilly, the New York Times reported that the company took steps to exert stronger control over his behavior, including stipulations in a recent contract extension. The report noted that O’Reilly makes about $18 million a year.
Fox News may be attempting to weather the storm with O’Reilly, who continually tops cable news ratings. His show draws close to 4 million viewers a night, and generated a total of $446 million in advertising revenue over the last two full years, according to the research firm Kantar Media (via the New York Times).
Despite the growing calls to fire Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host maintains that the sexual harassment accusations against him have no merit.
[Featured Image by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Hollywood Reporter]