Bill O’Reilly seemed invincible. His career on Fox News spanned 21 years. Although he was certainly not loved by co-workers who said that he was hard to work with, the fans watched in droves and the advertising money came in the hundreds of millions. O’Reilly’s Fox News primetime show has officially been canceled in the wake of multiple sexual harassment allegations.
Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, who lead 21st Century Fox made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon. “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 report said. Later that day, O’Reilly released his own statement, “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.” The popular host recently signed a new contract with Fox News and it is unclear what the stipulations were. He is presumably owed tens of millions of dollars under the terms of his multi-year contract, but it may have had clauses that would allow Fox News to withdraw their deal. It is also unclear as to whether O’Reilly signed a “non-compete” clause which would not allow him to move to another network.
The media is all over this story, but maybe the most stinging response to O’Reilly’s firing came from “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert who reverted back to his former TV persona he made popular on “The Colbert Report.” Colbert said, “I owe a lot to Bill O’Reilly. I spent nine years playing a character based on him. Then 12 months in therapy to de-bloviate myself,” Colbert said to open his show Wednesday. While in character, Colbert continued, “Shame on you. You failed Bill O’Reilly. You didn’t deserve this great man. All he ever did was have your back. And if you’re a woman, had a go at the front too. Suddenly sexual harassment is a crime? But that’s the country we live in now. Obama’s Trump’s America… It’s not a surprise, we all saw this coming at us—like an old man at an intern in the break room. In case you’re a fan of sexual harassers who are on TV all the time—we still have Donald Trump.”
It all started when the New York Times used last summer’s firing of Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes, as a springboard to look into other allegations of sexual harassment within the network. That pursuit led the Times to O’Reilly’s past. They found that both O’Reilly and Fox had reached settlements totaling $13 million with five women who had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment or verbal abuse. When the NYT launched the story on April 1st, dozen’s of advertisers left the popular show. One of his accusers, Wendy Walsh, even called the Fox hotline with her lawyer present. The Murdochs immediately responded by asking the law firm Paul, Weiss to begin an investigation. The results of that investigation no doubt influenced the decision to fire O’Reilly.
In a letter to their employees, Rupert Murdoch wrote that O’Reilly’s exit followed “an extensive review done in collaboration with outside cousel.” At one point in the letter, he praised O’Reilly saying he was, “one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news” before saying “we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”
On Wednesday night, Dana Perino hosted O’Reilly’s 8pm hour on fox. It was stripped of all O’Reilly branding and simply called “The Factor.” Perino addressed O’Reilly’s departure at the very beginning of the show and at the end, but did not mention the reason for it.
What do you think about O’Reilly’s firing?
Credit: CNN Media