Fox News made a decision to let go Bill O’Reilly, its top rated news and talk show host, whose career was by wrecked several sexual harassment allegations.
The network’s decision was first reported by the New York Magazine based on information from unidentified sources briefed on the situation.
Fox News executives are planning to announce Mr. O’Reilly’s exit before his return from his vacation in Italy on April 24. They have an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss how to handle his departure without causing severe damage to the network, according to the sources.
The O’Reilly Factor is the most popular program on Fox News even after reports that Mr. O’Reilly and the network paid $13 million to settle sexual harassment cases filed by at least five complainants. The TV program is making around $200 million in advertising revenue every year.
Murdoch under pressure to decide on O’Reilly’s future
Rupert Murdoch, the Chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA), the parent company of Fox News, is facing an increasing pressure to decide on Mr. O’Reilly’s future as advertisers pulled out ad placements from The O’Reilly Factor.
Earlier this month, Wendy Walsh, a psychologist and a former regular guest on The O’Reilly Factor filed a sexual harassment case against the top rated TV host. She came forward after learning that many of the women who filed cases against Mr. O’Reilly were restricted by gag orders. She said, “Nobody can silence me because my voice is not for sale.”
Ms. Walsh’s lawyer, Lisa Bloom believed that there is a “culture of sexual harassment at Fox News that started at the top with Roger Ailes, the ousted chief executive of the network.
O’Reilly was subjected to brutal character assassination
Mr. O’Reilly denied the allegations against him and explained that he is vulnerable to lawsuits because of his prominence. He said. “The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer.”
21st Century Fox is investigating the sexual harassment allegations against Mr. O’Reilly with the help of law firm Paul, Weiss. The Board of the company is scheduled to meet on Thursday regarding Mr. O’Reilly’s future. Sources said the primary issue on the table is whether they would allow the TV host to say farewell to his audience. Another issue they need to discuss is about money since Mr. O’Reilly recently signed a new multi-year contract worth over $20 million a year.
Mr. O’Reilly’s attorney Marc E. Kasowitz said his client has been subjected to brutal character assassination not seen since the McCarthyism. He said his firm discovered irrefutable evidence that far-left organizations launched a smear campaign to destroy Mr. O’Reilly.
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