UPDATE: 21st Century Fox has announced that controversially — and legally beset — conservative talker Bill O’Reilly is now officially out at Fox News, capping a day of reports that the decision had been made to make his vacation a permanent departure:
Bill O’Reilly will no longer be employed at Fox News, the network’s parent company 21st Century Fox said in a statement Wednesday. The decision comes after allegations of him sexually harassing female colleagues prompted protests outside network headquarters and a mass exodus from advertisers.
“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 New Channel,” the statement read.
O’Reilly had said mid-April that he was taking a vacation. The official departure from Fox is an unceremonious end for the host, who had anchored the top-rated cable news show “The O’Reilly Factor” since its inception more than 20 years ago. His stunning exit mirrors that of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who launched Fox News in 1996 and abruptly left the network last summer amid widespread sexual harassment allegations.
Following a bombshell New York Times report earlier this month indicating O’Reilly and Fox News have paid around $13 million in settlements to address complaints brought by five of his former female colleagues, advertisers began fleeing the show. Within days, more than 50 companies announced they would no longer air spots during the show.
Here is our earlier report and roundup in full:
A series of reports — including one from the most reliable reporters when it comes to Fox News news — now say the Murdoch family has decided it’s not worth waiting out the firestorm swirling around its biggest cash cow, Bill O’Reilly, who continues to be accused of sexual harassment. BBC flatly headlines: “Fox News ‘to drop host Bill O’Reilly’ after harassment cases.” According to various reports, its all a matter of when the announcement will be made, not whether, and whether O’Reilly will get to say goodbye to his audience or have to make a clean break. My bet? He won’t be back. He leaves the stale smell of corporate enable, sexual harassment in the wake of reports that Fox has paid out some $13 million to quietly settle a host of lawsuits, and although he’s the company’s biggest star, and top advertisers have abandoned his show in droves.
The former journalist who became cable news’ top-rated conservative political commentator began hosting The O’Reilly Factor in 1996. He’s one of the group of political entertainment celebrities who became extremely wealthy in the late 20th century into the 21st century by pushing political and ideological hot buttons and essentially demonizing one party or ideology for several hours a week. O’Reilly, however, has at times been a bit different: he has shown more political independence than the tiresomely predictable Sean
Hackety Hannity — and at times displayed real journalistic chops from his previous incarnations as a traditional journalist.
But even in a 2017 America dominated by the Republican party, the scandals swirling around him sparked social media pounding, advertising boycott campaigns, advertising cancellations and fears that Fox News and 21st Century Fox which owns more than Fox News could be left with an terrible corporate stench if it tried to ride the furor out and hoped he’d regain lost advertisers.
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman is considered one of the best media reporters on anything dealing with Fox. His report, titled “Sources: Fox News Has Decided Bill O’Reilly Has to Go” says this:
The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.
Wednesday morning, according to sources, executives are holding emergency meetings to discuss how they can sever the relationship with the country’s highest-rated cable-news host without causing collateral damage to the network. The board of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.
According to Sherman, some current Fox News hosts are being considered to replace O’Reilly (some Tweets now suggest they are also looking for someone outside the company.). Sherman goes on:
The Murdochs’ decision to dump O’Reilly shocked many Fox News staffers I’ve spoken to in recent days. Late last week, the feeling inside the company was that Rupert Murdoch would prevail over his son James, who lobbied to jettison the embattled host. It’s still unclear exactly how the tide turned. According to one source, Lachlan Murdoch’s wife helped convince her husband that O’Reilly needed to go, which moved Lachlan into James’s corner. The source added that senior executives at other divisions within the Murdoch empire have complained that if O’Reilly’s allegations had happened to anyone else at their companies, that person would be gone already.
Fox News is preparing to cut ties with star anchor Bill O’Reilly, according to people close to the situation, after revelations that he and Fox parent 21st Century Fox settled multiple sexual harassment complaints led to an exodus of advertisers from his show and mounting pressure on the network.
Bill O’Reilly, the embattled Fox News host facing a barrage of sexual harassment accusations, briefly met Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday morning during the pontiff’s weekly general audience, shaking hands with a religious leader he once lectured over immigration.
Mr. O’Reilly, on vacation in Italy for the past week, sat in a V.I.P. section and shook hands with Francis. A photographer for L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, took a picture of Mr. O’Reilly, in a striped tie, shirt and jacket, shaking hands with Francis.
The weekly audience is a large event open to the public, with tens of thousands of the faithful filling the square. But the special section beside the stage holding the papal throne, where Mr. O’Reilly sat, is exclusive and entered only with special tickets distributed by the prefecture of the papal household, according to the Vatican press office.
The Vatican said last week that no official audience with Mr. O’Reilly was scheduled or would occur.
However, it’s starting to look like a blessing from the Pope that keeps him at Fox News will one day make the Pope a saint, since it would be a miracle.
CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter:
Fox News will no longer even respond to questions about whether Bill O’Reilly will return to his show.
A well-placed source said Tuesday afternoon that representatives for Fox and O’Reilly have begun talking about an exit. But this prompted a denial from sources in O’Reilly’s camp.
Even one person close to O’Reilly, however, said he will probably not be back on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The original well-placed source said an announcement about O’Reilly’s fate was likely by the end of the week.
The fact that none of these sources were willing to go on the record speaks to the delicate maneuvering underway.
The network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox (FOX), will hold a board meeting on Thursday, a spokeswoman told CNNMoney. One of the sources said O’Reilly will be a primary topic.
The Murdochs, the men who control 21st Century Fox, are pointedly not commenting on any of this.
But conversations inside Fox have already turned to possible O’Reilly successors.
Could all of these reports be wrong? There is always the possibility he’d come back with some kind of apology, and also the possibility I might grow wings and transport more passengers than United.
Wait: given United’s bad month, that could happen…
Inside Fox News, executives are interviewing possible replacements for O'Reilly today, sources sayhttps://t.co/CoG7mqwTjw
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) April 19, 2017
— The Hill (@thehill) April 19, 2017
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) April 18, 2017
ill never forget how oreilly cut the mic of a 9/11 victim's son because he wouldnt do what he wanted https://t.co/AShVhfHdLb
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) April 19, 2017
Unfortunately the Pope didn't have time to hear O'Reilly's confession. https://t.co/XeHulcUWQc
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) April 19, 2017
FOOTNOTE: One of the most watched You Tubes is this (adult language) video outtake of an angry O’Reilly on his old show Inside edition.
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