Bill O’Reilly, popular host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” will no longer be a part of Fox News’ stable of presenters, a decision reached Wednesday after weeks of backlash over allegations of sexual harassment during his time at the network.
“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, parent company of the broadcaster, said in a statement Wednesday.
The New York Times first reported the settlements in early April, investigating complaints from five women who said they received payouts to keep mum “about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances, and [inappropriate] phone calls,” the Times learned from documents and interviews. O’Reilly, who joined the network in 1996, has denied the accusations. The Times reported he had settled $13 million in sexual harassment cases over the years.
Since mid-April, O’Reilly, 67, has been on vacation and was seen on Wednesday meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Here is Bill O’Reilly literally meeting with Pope Francis this morning pic.twitter.com/SlNMqAnsKn
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) April 19, 2017
In a statement posted to Twitter by CNN’s Dylan Byers, O’Reilly said “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.”
In statement, Bill O’Reilly calls claims against him “unfounded" https://t.co/2Vlo7dbn6R
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) April 19, 2017
Fox News has faced significant pressure to address the allegations, as several sponsors withdrew their ads from the program, the network’s long-reigning No. 1 program in cable news. The shakeup comes less than a year after Roger Ailes, the network’s former chairman, resigned after a number of women — including former anchor Gretchen Carlson and reporter Megyn Kelly — stepped forward with allegations of sexual harassment. Ailes was paid $40 million as part of his exit last summer, the Times reported. 21st Century Fox later reached settlements with many of Ailes’ accusers, including Carlson, who received $20 million.
An African-American woman came forward Tuesday with fresh allegations against O’Reilly via The Hollywood Reporter, saying that the host called her “hot chocolate,” among other instances of misconduct.
The woman’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, reacted to the news of O’Reilly’s ouster on Twitter:
Imagine facing your fears, standing up to an abuser, speaking out about sexual harassment. Do the unimaginable. Be brave. Be bold.
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) April 19, 2017
In a memo to employees, Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch said the decision came after an “extensive review.”
“By ratings 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,” they wrote.
“Lastly, and most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect,” the memo said.
PBS NewsHour’s Erica R. Hendry contributed to this report.