Bill O'Reilly loses job at Fox News over sexual harassment claims

He had initially planned to return to his The O'Reilly Factor show on April 24.

Fox News neocon blowhard Bill O'Reilly was officially ousted by the network Wednesday as a result of a growing sexual harassment scandal.

Carlson's current 9 p.m. slot will be filled by the panel talk show "The Five", which will be replaced at 5 p.m. with a new show hosted by Eric Bolling, now a co-host of "The Five" and a frequent fill-in host on "The Factor". For Fox executives, it wasn't clear when it would end: a campaign to target advertisers was continuing, a group of women demonstrated in front of Fox's headquarters Tuesday and another woman, a former clerical worker at Fox, called a harassment hotline and accusing the host of boorish behaviour.

But the climate shifted dramatically after The New York Times reported on April 1 that O'Reilly or Fox had paid $13 million to settle five cases against him alleging sexual or other harassment.

O'Reilly, who has worked for Fox News for 21 years, has denied the harassment claims have merit, and his attorney denounced the accusations as a "brutal campaign of character assassination". O'Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. Last July, Fox News's then chairman, Roger Ailes, was forced out amid allegations that he sexually harassed numerous women.

NY magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman wrote this morning that network executives are preparing to announce O'Reilly's departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. "For years, Fox News executives, like Bill Shine, have provided cover for systematic sexual harassment and abuse of Fox New's employees". The woman, speaking anonymously through her lawyer, said she never had a direct conversation with the Fox commentator, but said he referred to her as "hot chocolate" at one point when they were together alone, made grunting noises and leered at her cleavage and legs.

The former top-rated cable news host said in a statement, "It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims".

"This is what happens when women speak our truth - we can slay dragons", Bloom said.

The blunt, loud-talking O'Reilly has weathered controversy in the past, including other allegations of sexual impropriety, but the latest round hit the Fox news empire in the pocketbook as more than more than 50 top-drawer companies have pulled their ads from the show.

A representative for O'Reilly, who has been off the air on vacation since April 11, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"I understand how hard this has been for many of you", Rupert Murdoch said in a memo to Fox staff. With a profit centre gone, 21st Century Fox stock fell nearly 1 per cent Wednesday in heavy trading.

But "I'm not closing the door" on O'Reilly "just because there were allegations that were not confirmed", he said.

The Times reports that Greene first shared her allegations about O'Reilly last fall, but only now agreed to go on the record.

That multiplying effect gave O'Reilly a role in a seismic change, he said.

The popular host was in St. Peter's Square with his son for Pope Francis' weekly address, and afterwards stood in a VIP line to shake hands with the holy leader.

  • Salvatore Jensen