FOX News kicked Bill O'Reilly to the curb Wednesday amid a sexual harassment scandal that lost his primetime show, The O'Reilly Factor, more than 50 advertisers, the New York Times reports.
In early April, O'Reilly found himself in the midst of a PR nightmare when the Times uncovered how much FOX's parent company, 21st Century Fox*, paid to settle several sexual harassment allegations against the host that date back to the early 2000s. The company dished out $13 million to keep five of his accusers quiet. Though FOX was aware of the allegations, it wasn't until The O'Reilly Factor—the most watched and most profitable cable news show on television—began to lose advertisers and face significant public opposition that the company decided to part ways with its star host.
"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," 21st Century Fox wrote in a statement.
The company hired a team of lawyers to investigate the allegations made against O'Reilly, which the former host has denied. So far, they haven't released their findings.
O'Reilly has hosted his show on FOX News for 20 years, and without him, the network's ratings could plunge by roughly 25 percent, the Los Angeles Times reports. From 2014 to 2016, The O'Reilly Factor pulled in more than $446 million in ad revenue for the network. Whereas O'Reilly averaged 3.98 million viewers per episode, Tucker Carlson—the second most-watched host in cable news—nabbed 3.27 million. Carlson, a FOX commentator and the host of Tucker Carlson Tonight, will take O'Reilly's 8 PM spot on the network, according to NPR.
O'Reilly's sexual harassment scandal came on the heels of FOX News's former chairman Roger Ailes's ouster, who got the boot after women made similar allegations against him. Though the company vowed to do better in terms of maintaining a safe work environment, several female employees criticized executives for condoning O'Reilly's alleged behavior, claiming its emphasis on "trust and respect" was BS. It's a line the company has continued to use up to this day.
"Lastly, and most importantly," the company wrote in a letter to employees, "we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect."
Update 5:00 PM EST: Bill O'Reilly released a statement on Wednesday regarding his termination, saying, "Over the past 20 years at FOX News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building FOX into the dominant news network in television. It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims."
*In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that 21st Century Fox owns a small stake in VICE Media.
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