Fox News has fired Bill O’Reilly as sexual harassment allegations piled up against its marquee star.
21st Century Fox confirmed O’Reilly’s exit in the following internal memo to employees on Wednesday afternoon:
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.
This decision follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel.
By rating standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable. Fox News has demonstrated again and again the strength of its talent bench. We have full confidence that the network will continue to be a powerhouse in cable news.
Internal memo that the Murdochs just sent out to all staff at Fox News pic.twitter.com/PBeSR8zMEe
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) April 19, 2017
Rumors swirled that the Murdochs got fed up with the scandals surrounding O’Reilly. “The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end,” New York magazine reported.
Insiders say executives are holding emergency meetings to work out an exit package, including how to transition seamlessly without O’Reilly, whose nightly TV show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” has been the highest-rated cable news show for the past 16 years.
O’Reilly’s ratings have crushed CNN and MSNBC every single year since 2001. That’s a streak unmatched in cable news.
Amazingly, O’Reilly’s ratings surged last week after a slew of sponsors pulled their ads to protest the harassment complaints against the outspoken anchor.
Executives are discussing whether O’Reilly should be allowed to say good-bye to his loyal audience. Another issue that needs to be hammered out concerns money, as O’Reilly recently signed a multi-year contract worth more than $20 million a year.
When former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was forced out last summer amid similar accusations, the Murdochs paid him the remainder of his hefty contract, which was $40 million.
O’Reilly’s firing is a stunning end to a meteoric career at Fox News, where he was the undisputed ratings king for the past 16 years. Bill joined FNC in 1996.
Tucker Carlson will take over O’Reilly’s coveted 8 p.m. time slot. FNC is also moving “The Five” to 9 p.m. and making other changes to its lineup.
O’Reilly’s attorney Marc Kasowitz issued this statement on Tuesday, calling the accusations a “smear campaign” aimed at “character assassination”:
Bill O’Reilly has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America. This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organization bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons.
That evidence will be put forth shortly and is irrefutable.
Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
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. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.
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