The most significant rumor within the television world has become a reality no one would have predicted just a couple weeks ago:
Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News.
A day after a Wall Street Journal report hinted strongly that O’Reilly would be let go by the network that made him a household name, Fox News has officially cut ties with its highest-rated host.
The decision was made several days after The New York Times confirmed that O’Reilly has paid five different woman a total of $13 million over the past decade or so in order to settle claims of sexual harassment.
“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,” reads a statement today from 21st Century Fox.
“This decision follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel.
“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.
“Lastly, and most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”
O’Reilly’s departure comes a few months after star Megyn Kelly left Fox News for NBC.
Multiple sources have said that Kelly turned down a contract worth $20 million per year from Fox because she was angry over the way it enabled alleged sexual predators such as O’Reilly and Roger Ailes.
Ailes, the former CEO of Fox News’ parent company, resigned last summer amidst his own sexual misconduct scandal.
Addressing the allegations that he harassed a minimum of five women over the years, O’Reilly posted a statement to his website on April 1, emphasizing that his position has made him “vulnerable to lawsuits,” despite the fact that “no one has ever filed a complaint,” about him with the network Human Resources Department.
“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel,” he wrote at the time.
“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.”
Shortly after the Times published its bombshell report, over 70 advertisers pulled their spots on The O’Reilly Factor.
The program has averaged over four million viewers per night and has consistently been the network’s best-performing series for years.
But money talks; and these companies leaving the show eventually gave O’Reilly’s bosses no choice but to cut him loose.
O’Reilly had been with the network since 1996, originally hosting a program titled The O’Reilly Report.
On April 11, O’Reilly announced that he would be taking a vacation, adding that he scheduled the trip “last fall.”
Shortly afterward, rumors started flying that he would never actually return to the air on Fox News. And now we’ve arrived at that point.
As far as Fox programming goes:
Tucker Carlson, who has garnered strong ratings at 9 p.m., will move to O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. slot starting Monday, April 24.
Fox News will fill Carlson’s former berth with its panel show, “The Five,” while keeping Sean Hannity at 10 p.m.