Fox News is on the verge of ending Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year-tenure on the news network amid a plethora of sexual harassment allegations.
Variety reports that O’Reilly is set to be fired by Fox News later this week. O’Reilly is currently on vacation since April 12 and is scheduled to return to The O’Reilly Factor on the 24th, but with the cascade of sexual harassment allegations bearing down on the veteran news anchor, his return is highly unlikely.
New York Magazine, citing three sources, previously reported that the Murdoch family is considering severing ties with O’Reilly after more than 60 advertisers defected from The O’Reilly Factor on account of the allegations.
21st Century Fox patriarch Rupert Murdoch, the current Fox News chairman, has voted to keep O’Reilly. But his son James, who is now the CEO of 21st Century Fox, decided to let Bill O’Reilly go.
Days later, Wall Street Journal broke the news that Fox is preparing to cut ties with O’Reilly.
Bill O’Reilly has been the target of controversy since New York Times published a detailed report of $13 million in settlements allegedly paid off by O’Reilly and Fox News to five women. The report prompted advertisers to defect from the O’Reilly Factor and women’s and civil rights groups to call for O’Reilly’s dismissal.
Bill O’Reilly’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, issued a statement saying that his client was the victim of a “brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.” He placed the blame on “far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons.”
On Tuesday, an anonymous African-American woman claimed via her attorney, Lisa Bloom, that Bill O’Reilly made sexual and racially-charged comments against her while working for Fox in 2008.
O’Reilly was also embroiled in another controversy involving former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly. “Look, it’s open season,” he remarked, when asked to comment about a recently published book by Megyn Kelly. The book contained Kelly’s account of the sexual harassment she endured from Roger Ailes, Fox News’s former chairman. Mr. O’Reilly later said, “Let’s whack the Fox News Channel. I’ve had enough of it. It’s a good place to work. All right?”
His comments sparked media outrage and irked Megyn Kelly, who emailed Fox News to complain about O’Reilly’s statements and explain how his behavior could have negative consequences on the women working for the company, according to anonymous sources who knew about the email. Another producer from the network also made a plea that O’Reilly not be allowed to make such statements again.
Kelly’s email, however, did not produce the desired effect. Before long, O’Reilly slammed Megyn Kelly again, insinuating that she was ungrateful to the network despite the company paying her wages. He also suggested that if she has any complaints about the company, she could have gone to Human Resources or just left instead. He ended the sermon with the words, “Loyalty is good.”
O’Reilly’s public scolding of Kelly, along with the network’s lack of effort to alleviate the culture of misogyny that seems to permeate through the company, has reportedly urged Ms. Kelly to leave Fox News and later take on a new role at NBC.
Realizing their mistake, the Murdoch family offered Kelly more than $20 million a year to stay with the company. She declined the offer.
O’Reilly and Mr. Ailes denied the allegations against them.
“Mr. O’Reilly cannot comment on what Megyn Kelly thought, or did or did not do, except to say she never raised any such issue with him, nor did anyone else,” O’Reilly’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, said. “At this time, it is apparent to any objective observer that Mr. O’Reilly is being subjected to a malicious campaign intent on harming his reputation and family through speculation and innuendo.”
[Featured Image by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images]