Bill O’Reilly, the embattled media personality facing a barrage of sexual assault allegations, is neck-deep in a career crisis, a situation that often leads many people to cling to a spiritual faith. It looks like O’Reilly is no different.
A photographer from the L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s daily newspaper, recently snapped a photo of O’Reilly shaking hands with Pope Francis in Italy.
According to the New York Times, the host of The O’Reilly Factor waited in the Vatican VIP section for a chance to meet the pontiff during the religious leader’s weekly audience with the public. This special seating is located behind the Papal Throne and is only available to people who receive exclusive tickets that are given out by the papal household. They are often a way for visiting “dignitaries” to meet with the pope without having a formal audience, the New York Times notes.
Bill O’Reilly has previously lectured Pope Francis on his show for his views on immigration.
In February of 2016, the pope said, in what seemed like a carefully worded jab at then presidential candidate Donald Trump, “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not a Christian.”
O’Reilly took issue with his statement and commented about it on his show a couple of days later.
“I would suggest to Pope Francis, that millions of Americans have been harmed economically by our immigration system which desperately needs reform,” O’Reilly said at the time. “I think I could persuade the Pope that providing protection and enforcing settled law is certainly not un-Christian.”
Bill O’Reilly might have been on vacation in Italy for the past week, but that didn’t stop his career on Fox News from going up in flames.
News broke on Wednesday that he was fired from Fox News because of the barrage of sexual harassment allegations that have been lodged against him. This comes after advertisers pulled out of supporting The O’Reilly Factor, forcing the show to scramble to fill in the empty air time.
“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,” Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to Variety, O’Reilly had been scheduled to return to his show on April 24 after his Easter vacation. But it looks like he won’t get the opportunity to say goodbye to the viewers who helped him maintain his top spot at Fox for many years.
The New York Times broke the story about Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment controversy. In the report, they revealed that five women had received payments totaling approximately $13 million so that they would not sue him or publicly discuss their claims about his alleged indecent behavior.
The women who were paid had either worked for Bill O’Reilly or had appeared on his show. According to the research collected by the NYT, their main complaints against Mr. O’Reilly were lewd comments, uncalled for advances, and phone calls where it sounded as though the 67-year-old TV host was masturbating.
O’Reilly has repeatedly denied the claims. According to Variety, his attorney has claimed that his client is the victim of a “smear campaign” led by left-wing political groups.
In his official statement about the allegations, O’Reilly hinted that he settled lawsuits to protect his family from the negative fallout.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline. But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children. The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”
Bill O’Reilly’s ousting from Fox News now means that Tucker Carlson will take over his coveted 8 p.m. time slot, according to the official statement from 21st Century Fox. It’s truly the end of an era over at Fox News.
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