Fox News 'to sack O'Reilly' over sexual harassment claims
Fox News has decided to part ways with star host Bill O'Reilly following allegations of sexual harassment, 'New York' magazine reported yesterday, citing anonymous sources briefed on the discussions.
O'Reilly said in an April 1 statement that he had been unfairly targeted because of his public prominence. Marc Kasowitz, O'Reilly's lawyer, said in a statement on Tuesday that the television host "has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America".
It is not known exactly how Fox News will handle O'Reilly's exit or whether he would be allowed to say goodbye to viewers on the air, according to the 'New York' magazine report.
Representatives at Fox News and its parent Twenty-First Century Fox Inc were not immediately available for comment. A representative for O'Reilly, who has been off the air on vacation since April 11, declined to comment.
A Vatican photograph showed O'Reilly shaking hands with Pope Francis after a general audience yesterday, but it was not clear if the Pope knew who the television host was.
The 'New York Times' reported on April 1 that Fox and O'Reilly, a 20-year veteran of the conservative cable network, paid five women a total of $13m (€12.1m) to settle harassment claims. The five women who received settlements either worked for O'Reilly or appeared as guests on his programme, according to the 'New York Times' story.
O'Reilly said in a statement at the time he had settled only to spare his children from the controversy.
O'Reilly's show, 'The O'Reilly Factor', is the top-rated show on Fox News. According to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media, it brought in $147.13m (€137.2m) in advertising revenue in 2016. But after the 'New York Times' report, advertisers, including BMW of North America, Allstate Corp, French pharmaceuticals maker Sanofi SA and T. Rowe Price, pulled their advertising from O'Reilly's primetime show.
O'Reilly's exit follows that of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who was forced to resign in July after being accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, including former anchor Gretchen Carlson. Mr Ailes has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Twenty-First Century Fox has tapped the law firm Paul, Weiss Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which also looked into the allegations against Ailes, to investigate O'Reilly's conduct.