The Bill O’Reilly era at Fox News has drawn to a close. Fox ended its relationship with its highest-rated star Wednesday after The New York Times reported that the anchor and the network have paid more than $13 million to settle harassment claims against O’Reilly since 2002.
On Wednesday, the company released a statement explaining that “[a]fter 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 Fox News Channel.” Multiple outlets are reporting that Tucker Carlson will take over O’Reilly’s time slot starting on Monday.
The O’Reilly Factor had averaged four million viewers a night in 2017 – the show’s highest ratings ever. After the Times report, viewership stayed strong – increasing, even – but dozens of advertisers pulled scheduled spots from O’Reilly’s timeslot, not wanting to be associated with the accusations against the embattled host. Replacing O’Reilly will be no small feat for Fox; since he went on vacation last week, Factor ratings have dropped 23 percent with guest hosts.
O’Reilly is the second high-profile figure forced out of Fox by a series of sexual harassment accusations within the last year. The network’s founding CEO, Roger Ailes, resigned over the summer after more than 20 women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment and psychological torture over the course of his two-decade tenure.
The Fox News led by Ailes and figureheaded by O’Reilly was, according to the lawsuits and media reports, a nightmare factory for the women who worked there. On-air talent, guests and behind-the-scenes employees were often subjected to lewd comments, aggressive sexual advances and verbal abuse, then threatened or ignored when they came forward to report it.
Here are some of the accusations against O’Reilly, dating back to the early 2000s.
O’Reilly angrily berated a junior producer named Rachel Witlieb Bernstein in front of the newsroom, according to an internal investigation conducted by the network and first reported by The New York Times. Bernstein left Fox with a small settlement shortly after the incident.
O’Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris filed suit, accusing O’Reilly of sexual harassment and seeking $60 million in damages. Her lawyers contended that the host subjected her to inappropriate stories about his sex life on multiple occasions, told her to buy a vibrator and repeatedly described his sexual fantasies over the phone while masturbating. (Mackris apparently recorded several of their conversations.) According to the lawsuit, O’Reilly fantasized in graphic detail about whisking Mackris away to the Caribbean, where people “shed their inhibitions”; described his desire to take a falafel and “put it on [her] pussy”; regaled her with stories of his purported sexual escapades with a Scandinavian flight attendant and a Thai sex worker; and propositioned her and her college roommate one night over dinner.
O’Reilly preemptively filed suit against Mackris the same day, alleging extortion. The two settled out of court for a reported $9 million one week later. When they did, O’Reilly told his audience, “This brutal ordeal is now officially over, and I will never speak of it again.”
O’Reilly and Maureen McPhilmy, his wife of 14 years separated; they divorced the next year. According to court documents unearthed by Gawker, O’Reilly went on the warpath against McPhilmy: He mounted a campaign to get fired her new boyfriend and later husband, a Nassau County police officer. According to court documents, O’Reilly may have hired the couple’s court-appointed mediator as a nanny. And finally, Gawker reported that O’Reilly appeared to have used his considerable influence with the Catholic archdiocese to have his wife reprimanded for taking communion even though she divorced and remarried.
Rebecca Gomez Diamond, host of the Fox show Happy Hour, sued O’Reilly after her contract with the network ran out, alleging harassment similar to that reported by Mackris years earlier. Like Mackris, Gomez Diamond recorded her conversations with O’Reilly. They eventually agreed he would personally pay her an undisclosed amount to settle the claim.
O’Reilly’s daughter told a court-appointed forensic examiner that she witnessed her father choking her mother and dragging her down a set of stairs by her neck. She described O’Reilly’s fits of rage as “scary and demeaning,” and said they would sometimes make her cry. (O’Reilly called the accusations “100% false”; the court would later strip him of custody of both his children.)
After Ailes’ public ouster in August 2016, Fox News settled sexual harassment claims involving O’Reilly and two former employees. The first was Fox anchor Laurie Dhue, who complained the Factor host of sexual harassment and settled for $1 million. The other was Juliet Huddy, co-host of Fox & Friends First, Fox & Friends Weekend and DaySide, who alleged O’Reilly made passes at her and tried to have her fired when she rejected them. Huddy also said, like both Mackris and Diamond before her, that O’Reilly called her on the phone while audibly masturbating. Fox News settled that claim, too, covering both O’Reilly’s legal fees and playing Huddy a reported $1.6 million.
Former Fox personality Andrea Tantaros said in a lawsuit filed in August that O’Reilly invited her to his “very private” home on Long Island and would often say he could tell she had a “wild” side. Her lawyer told The Times Fox offered Tantaros a seven-figure sum to settle in arbitration, but she refused.
Wendy Walsh, a frequent guest on The O’Reilly Factor, told The Times O’Reilly dangled a lucrative contract as a Fox contributor over dinner, then snatched it back when she refused to go to his hotel room with him. She soon stopped receiving invitations to appear on his show as well.
A former Fox News employee came forward the day before O’Reilly was fired to report the Fox host harassed her while she worked for another of the network’s shows in 2008. According to her lawyer, “He would never talk to her, not even hello, except to grunt at her like a wild boar. … He would leer at her. He would always do this when no one else was around and she was scared.” The woman, who is black, said O’Reilly called her “hot chocolate.”