Fox News has parted ways with its star anchor Bill O’Reilly today after numerous advertisers pulled support of the cable news ratings juggernaut amid numerous allegations of sexual harassment against the host.
Support for O’Reilly from the Murdoch family, the owners of Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox, grew increasingly tenuous after a fourth woman came forward to level further accusations of sexual harassment against O’Reilly.
On Wednesday afternoon, 21st Century Fox released the statement, “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.”
The allegations against O’Reilly have become a public relations nightmare, as not only sponsors of the top-rated program have pulled their advertising dollars following online campaigns urging a boycott, but advocacy groups have been protesting outside the Fox News New York City headquarters.
The New York Times reported late Tuesday:
A lawyer for Mr. O’Reilly, Marc E. Kasowitz of Kasowitz Benson Torres, said Tuesday that his client was being targeted by liberal groups trying to bring him down. “Bill O’Reilly has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America,” he said in a statement. “This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons. That evidence will be put forth shortly, and it is irrefutable.”
On Tuesday, the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet led a rally of sexual assault survivors outside the Fox News headquarters in Manhattan, calling for the ouster of Mr. O’Reilly. The group also commissioned an airplane to fly over New York City with a banner that read, “Fox: #DropOReilly, The Sexual Predator.”
The group directly targeted James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox, who has pushed to modernize the company’s workplace. UltraViolet sent a letter to him signed by more than 450 people described as victims of sexual harassment that read in part: “The lurid details of Mr. O’Reilly’s crimes, and Fox News’ role in protecting him while systematically destroying the women he has victimized, are disturbing yet completely unsurprising. We know firsthand that survivors of sexual crimes are silenced, shamed, and vilified by perpetrators and onlookers, and 21st Century Fox has gone as far as to protect O’Reilly from his accusers with monetary payouts.”
O’Reilly is the third high profile figure at Fox News to leave the network due to what many perceive to be a “culture” of sexual harassment; Fox News cut ties with its former Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes over similar allegations made against him, and various media outlets have speculated former 9pm anchor Megyn Kelly chose to not renew her contract with the network, in part, due to the alleged behaviors of O’Reilly and Ailes.
UPDATE: O’Reilly released the following statement Wednesday:
Over the past 20 years at Fox News I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television. It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time with Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.
Fox News is not allowing any grass to grow under its feet, and has released its new lineup:
In the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s departure, Fox News Channel will introduce a new evening and prime time lineup that promises exciting guests, lively debate and compelling news coverage.
“The Factor” will continue for the remainder of this week at 8 p.m., with guest hosts Dana Perino Wednesday and Thursday night, and Greg Gutfeld on Friday night.
Beginning Monday, April 24, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” will take over the 8 p.m. timeslot, broadcasting live from the Washington, DC bureau of The Fox News Channel. Additionally, “The Five” move into the 9 p.m. timeslot, starting Monday.
New programming and debut dates are as follows, with all times Eastern:
· 5 p.m. — A one-hour program hosted by Eric Bolling will debut on Monday, May 1. For the week of April 24-28, “Special Report with Bret Baier” will fill the 5-7 p.m. timeslot.
· 7 p.m. — “The Story with Martha MacCallum” airs live, debuting on Monday, May 1. MacCallum will continue anchoring “The First 100 Days” through April 28
· 8 p.m. – “Tucker Carlson Tonight“
· 9 p.m. — “The Five” airs live with co-hosts Kimberly Guilfoyle, Dana Perino, Bob Beckel, Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters and Juan Williams
· 10 p.m. – “Hannity” remains in its current timeslot, hosted by Sean Hannity
Photo: Andy Kropa/Invision, via Associated Press