It’s official: Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News.
The announcement came from News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, who released the following 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.”
Following reports from both New York and the Wall Street Journal, O’Reilly’s termination isn’t exactly a surprise, although as the Hollywood Reporter pointed out, The O’Reilly Factor “has been the No. 1 show in cable news for 15 consecutive years bringing in more than $400 million in ad revenue between 2014 and 2016 and $118 million in the first three quarters of 2016.” That’s why Fox News was willing to pay $13 million in settlements to five women who accused O’Reilly of “verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances, and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating.” But once advertisers started fleeing by the dozen, Murdoch cut all ties.
Here’s the memo he sent to 21st Century Fox employees:
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, who would reportedly “grunt” at one of his accusers (who he referred to as “Hot Chocolate”) like a “wild boar,” started hosting The O’Reilly Factor — then known as The O’Reilly Report — in 1996. But after the April 11th episode, he went on “vacation,” which, in cable news speak, is like going to a farm upstate. Somewhere out there, Stephen Colbert is weeping for Papa Bear.
UPDATE #1 – 5:20pm EST: NBC News tweeted O’Reilly’s statement on the matter. He expresses pride at the “unprecedented success” of Fox News while denying the allegations against him: “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims.”
(Via the Hollywood Reporter)