After weeks of bad press and new accusations of sexual harassment led scores of advertisers to flee his show, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is finally about to lose his job, according to multiple sources.
Joe Flint of the Wall Street Journal reported late last night that the network “is preparing to cut ties” with O’Reilly. Although there won’t be a final decision until the board of 21st Century Fox meets on Thursday, CNN also reported yesterday evening that O’Reilly has begun negotiating the terms of his departure.
Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters and a longtime O’Reilly critic who led calls to boycott his show, confidently announced on Facebook that “O’Reilly will be officially fired in the next 24-48 hours.”
Carusone and Media Matters are among the “far-left organizations” that O’Reilly’s attorney was thinking of when he complained yesterday that his client has “been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.”
Ironically, O’Reilly has urged viewers to boycott his critics ever since the first time he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2004.
If O’Reilly is fired from Fox for sexual harassment it’ll basically mean the standard for a @FoxNews host is higher than President of the US
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) April 19, 2017
O’Reilly had never been hurt by previous allegations. But a New York Times story at the beginning of April raised eyebrows by revealing that Fox News had paid at least five women almost $13 million in hush money over the years. The article also introduced a new accuser, Wendy Walsh, who did not sue but instead reported her experience to the Fox News hotline. Her call resulted in an official investigation by a law firm retained by the network.
That’s when boycott efforts began to take a toll, forcing Fox to air public service announcements and advertisements for their own programming in place of actual sponsors. O’Reilly then announced that he was taking a “vacation” for two weeks, driving speculation that his days with Fox were numbered.
According to Gabriel Sherman, a journalist with a long track record of inside scoops on internal decision-making at Fox News, the debate over what to do about O’Reilly has taken place within the family that owns the network.
“Three sources with knowledge of the discussions said that, while no final decision has been made, the Murdochs are leaning toward announcing that O’Reilly will not return to the air,” Sherman reported yesterday. “Sons James and Lachlan have been arguing that O’Reilly needs to go, say these sources, though their father, Rupert, has resisted that outcome.”
CNN Money had previously reported that James was pressing his father to fire O’Reilly.
Adding further gravity to their decision-making yesterday, yet another woman accused O’Reilly of harassment. Lisa Bloom, who is also the pro bono attorney for Wendy Walsh, says that O’Reilly referred to the African American employee as “hot chocolate” while staring at her body.
The Murdochs are eager to burnish their brand, which has been severely tarnished ever since Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was forced out last year over his own string of sexual harassment charges and expensive settlements.
Separately, a federal grand jury is looking into allegations that the network shifted money from various departments to pay for all these settlements, then hid the financial losses from investors.
If Bill O’Reilly is forced out as expected, Fox News will have to replace their best-rated prime time host.
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