Amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment

By Madeline Farber
Updated: April 19, 2017 5:11 PM ET
April 19, 2017

Fox News has officially cut its ties with its star anchor Bill O’Reilly, ending a two-decade run for cable news’ top-rated host after he faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

The announcement came from 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, 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,” the company said in a statement.

His longtime 8 p.m. slot will be taken by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the host of Tucker Carlson Tonight.

O’Reilly’s future with the cable channel had been in growing doubt ever since the New York Times reported that multiple allegations of sexual harassment against the O’Reilly Factor host over the years had resulted in payouts from the network or O’Reilly himself. Those payouts totaled about $13 million, the Times reported. That revelation, following the network’s high-profile ouster of its former chairman Roger Ailes amid allegations of sexual harassment, prompted dozens of companies to pull their advertisements from O’Reilly’s show.

Like Ailes, O’Reilly has repeatedly denied allegations of sexual harassment. In a statement, he called the allegations “unfounded” and thanked his viewers.

O’Reilly’s lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Fortune. But on Tuesday, in response to yet another allegation, Kasowitz decried “an orchestrated campaign” against O’Reilly.

“It is outrageous that an allegation from an anonymous person about something that purportedly happened almost a decade ago is being treated as fact,” Kasowitz said, “especially where there is obviously an orchestrated campaign by activists and lawyers to destroy Mr. O’Reilly and enrich themselves through publicity driven donations.”

Fox News has faced pressure for weeks — both internally and externally — to remove O’Reilly, and the anchor had been vacationing in Italy in the days leading up to his removal. The allegations against him added to the recent sexual harassment scandals that have plagued the company. Last year, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, among other women, accused Ailes of sexual harassment. Ailes stepped down in July 2016, and was replaced by Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, who were named co-presidents.

Losing O’Reilly, who joined the network in 1996, is likely to hurt Fox News’ bottom line. The O’Reilly Factor — which was the No. 1 program in cable news in 2016 — has generated more than $446 million in advertising revenues from 2014 through 2016, according to the research firm Kantar Media. His show was viewed by an average of four million people each night.

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