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FOX News Is Losing Advertisers Thanks to a Wave of Sexual Harassment Claims

Bill O'Reilly's alleged misconduct is now costing his employer even more money, and coupled with new allegations of racism, the right-wing media giant is reeling.

by Drew Schwartz
Apr 4 2017, 4:58pm

At least ten companies have pulled spots from Bill O'Reilly's signature talk show on FOX News following revelations that several women accused him of sexual harassment—and that the host and his company paid them millions to keep quiet about the allegations, as CNN reports.

But those settlements, totaling $13 million and originally reported by the New York Times, are just one component of a larger controversy surrounding the right-wing network. On Monday, former FOX News chairman Roger Ailes—ousted last year amid his own sexual harassment scandal—was hit with a new lawsuit alleging he offered a promotion in exchange for a sexual relationship. And after two black employees filed a racial discrimination suit against the company last week, a third black colleague joined the suit Tuesday, as New York reports.

For their part, advertisers ditching the O'Reilly Factor—among them Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, and BMW of North America—have been releasing statements clarifying they pulled their ads from the show because of the sexual harassment allegations levied against its host.

"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," Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Donna Boland said in a statement.

Last year, the O'Reilly Factor nabbed the number one spot in cable news with its pro-patriotism, anti-political correctness, balls-to-the-walls conservative programming. Between 2014 and 2016, it raked in more than $446 million in ad revenue for FOX News. Though O'Reilly's contract would've expired this year, the company extended it despite the accusations of sexual harassment he's faced—which, as the Times reports, the company knew plenty about.

"21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously," FOX News's parent company* wrote in a statement to the paper. "Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O'Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O'Reilly."

Meanwhile, Monica Douglas, a manager at FOX News who deals with credit collection, claimed in court Tuesday that company comptroller Judy Slater, who was fired last month, indicated "an unwillingness to even be near black people."

For now, at least, some former FOX News guests and analysts like Wendy Walsh—who told the Times she was discriminated against at work after refusing a sexual advance for O'Reilly—seem to be holding out hope that the culture at the news organization can actually change.

"I feel bad that some of these old guys are using mating strategies that were acceptable in the 1950s and are not acceptable now," she told the paper. "I hope young men can learn from this.

Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.

*Update: This story has been updated, and in the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that 21st Century Fox owns a small stake in VICE Media.