Bill O’Reilly has been let go from Fox News after settlements from five previously undisclosed sexual harassment lawsuits surfaced and more than 50 advertisers pulled their spots from The O’Reilly Factor. The O’Reilly Factor premiered on Fox News in 1996 and has been one of the station’s flagship programs ever since.
“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, the parent company of Fox News, said in a statement Wednesday.
O’Reilly has been off the air since April 11th. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that O’Reilly’s settlements with five co-workers and guests of his show totaled more than $13 million and were paid out over the past 15 years. The earliest deal was struck in 2002, while at least two were reached in the months after former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was forced to resign over similar accusations.
As the New York Times reports, Ailes’ departure ostensibly led to a culture shift at the network geared toward “trust and respect.” Amid the O’Reilly scandal, many female employees were angered at the network’s apparent inertia, putting pressure on 21st Century Fox.
While O’Reilly publicly settled a sexual harassment suit leveled by a former O’Reilly Factor producer, Andrea Mackris, in 2004, the recent Times report caused more than 50 major brands to pull their ads from the show, despite it still being the highest-rated news program on any network. Mercedes-Benz was the first to leave, after which Allstate, Advil, BMW, Mitsubishi, GlaxoSmithKline and more followed suit.
O’Reilly has denied the allegations, saying he paid the settlements to “put to rest any controversies to spare my children.” Fox News and 21st Century Fox initially stuck by the host, but following the advertiser boycott, his support – especially from the family of owner Rupert Murdoch – began to falter.
Along with the settlement report and advertiser backlash, O’Reilly’s behavior is still being investigated by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. On Tuesday, The Times reported that another woman had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment. Through her lawyer, the anonymous woman said she was not seeking money but felt it was important to report her allegations.
Watch a timeline of Bill O’Reilly’s vileness.