UPDATE: Fox news has now confirmed that Bill O’Reilly no longer is employed by Fox News According to the Hollywood Reporter.
Weeks after revelations surfaced that Bill O’Reilly settled several sexual harassment claims – leading to an advertiser exodus from his Fox News program – the embattled host is out of a job. The announcement came from parent 21st Century Fox.
“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,” a statement read.
The news is not a complete surprise, but it is nonetheless stunning. O’Reilly, 67, has been hosting the network’s 8 p.m. program The O’Reilly Factor for two decades. And it 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, according to Kantar Media.
There’s a good chance that Bill O’Reilly has broadcast his last show for Fox News as he negotiates his exit package from Fox News. But things can still go either way. The program has lost some large sponsors but the ratings were actually climbing. So, now Fox can stick with the O’Reilly substitute, who although seeing falling ratings, still beats the competition handily. They could bring O’Reilly back and keep the ratings higher and just find new sponsors.
What does everyone else think? According to a new Morning Consult poll, Americans in general want Fox to give O’Reilly the axe by a 2:1 margin (46/22). Among Trump voters, supporters of keeping the show just barely edge out axing it, 37/33. Given the news recently, the 16/48 reaction of women overall is no surprise, but men aren’t all that much further behind at 28/44, and even Republican women slightly favor Fox dumping O’Reilly at this point, 30/35. Independents largely follow the toplines on all these questions.
If he’s gone, though, Bill O’Reilly did have an astounding run at the top of his industry for more than 20 years. And he’ll have enough cash to leave it all behind, if that’s what he wants to do, no matter how the settlement talks with Fox go.
Update: Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff has more thoughts on the harassment claims themselves. I haven’t done much investigation into them and have not included their strength or lack thereof into my analysis of the situation. Paul feels that the claims are relatively weak, which could influence the decision, but $13 million is a lot of money to pay for five weak claims. It’s that figure that has prompted the protests, and which will be difficult — but not impossible — to explain if they decide to stick with O’Reilly.