****Editors Update 4/5/17 13:04 **** 22 compaines have pulled ads from O’Reilly’s program
Fox News is feeling the heat again regarding sexual harassment scandals and lawsuits. Last year, the Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, was ousted in the midst of a scandal. And the conservative network is once again engulfed in controversy. Two major advertisers pulled their spots from the show of Fox’s top-rated host, Bill O’Reilly. Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai said they were withdrawing their ads from the “The O’Reilly Factor” after the New York Times published an investigation this past weekend that found five women who made allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior against the host. Apparently, those five women have received settlements totaling $13 million the Times reported.
The network is drawing record ratings right now with programming supportive of President Trump. But this new development has staff members anxious; if more advertisers jump ship that will be a blow to Fox News. O’Reilly’s show draws nearly 4 million viewers each night and from 2014 to 2016, it generated more than $446 million in revenue from advertising.
Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications for Mercedes-Benz, wrote, “Given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now.” Hyundai cited “the recent and disturbing allegations” as it announced the removal of their ads. “As a company, we seek to partner with companies and programming that share our values of inclusion and diversity,” the Hyundai statement said. “We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation as we plan future advertising decisions.”
Even though there have been allegations and huge settlements paid out, Fox News has extended Bill O’Reilly’s contract which was set to expire this year. He makes about $18 million per year. The network said that they have discussed the issues with O’Reilly and believe that the new contract gives them more leverage regarding his behavior. O’Reilly has defended himself saying that the allegations have been without merit
On Monday, Fox News attempted to contain the story by urging its employees in an internal memo to report inappropriate behavior to the human resources department or other network executives. “Particularly in light of some of the accounts published over the last few days, I wanted to re-emphasize the message we have been conveying at our training sessions for several months,” said Kevin Lord, the network’s new head of human resources, who was hired following the Ailes scandal.
A former regular guest on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Wendy Walsh, spoke to The Times with her lawyer alongside. She said that O’Reilly did not follow through on a verbal offer to make her a contributor to his show after she declined an invitation to go to his hotel suite after a 2013 dinner arranged by his secretary. She did not receive a settlement and did not want money. She said, “Other women who are under gag orders, who cannot talk, they have been silenced,” Ms. Walsh said. “I had to be the voice for them.”
O’Reilly’s lawyers have demanded that she retract her story and cease the defamation of their client’s character.
What do you think about this scandal and the lawsuits Fox News is facing?