For the first time in Fox News’s over twenty year history, host Bill O’Reilly is currently not on the schedule. O’Reilly was let go from Fox News as a result of a sexual harassment investigation and the corresponding advertiser exodus. 21st Century Fox said in a statement, “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.”
O’Reilly has continued to deny the allegations, saying in a statement, “Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television.”
“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. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”
O’Reilly has been a Fox News host since its inception in 1996. For the first two years, his show aired as The O’Reilly Report before changing its name to The O’Reilly Factor.
Reporting by the New York Times on the $13 million Fox has paid to settle his harassment claims led to public attention, including from high profile attorney Lisa Bloom who promised to represent O’Reilly’s accused victims for free. Allegations from Wendy Walsh led the network to launch an investigation with the help of Paul, Weiss, the firm that also investigated claims brought against then-CEO Roger Ailes.
O’Reilly has been deemed The King of Cable by Fox News for his ratings success and a memo to staff highlighted that. A memo from Rupert, Lachlan, and James Murdoch stated, “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.”
“Lastly, and most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”
O’Reilly had been on vacation in Italy when the decision was made. He went on a preplanned vacation as the advertiser exodus was reaching its peak, leading many to question whether he would return. At first, Fox News was adamant that he would, eventually however they stopped answered that question.
As a result of O’Reilly’s dismissal, Fox News has shuffled its schedule. Tucker Carlson will move to O’Reilly’s spot from 9 PM. Filling Carlson’s void is The Five, which is moving from 5 PM. The Five will be hosted by Kimberly Guilfoyle, Dana Perino, Bob Beckel, Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters, and Juan Williams. Absent from that list is original host Eric Bolling who will remain in the 5 PM slot with a new program that will start May 1. Until then, Special Report with Bret Baier will be extended by an hour. All of the schedule changes will take place this coming Monday, aside from Bolling’s aforementioned show.
The Factor, as it is now being referred to, will air for the remainder of the week. Perino hosted on Wednesday and will host again on Thursday. Gutfeld will then host the final edition on Friday. Perino briefly addressed the matter at the beginning of the show, saying that “very loyal viewers will have a lot of feelings about this,” and then teased further discussion later in the hour. “It is the end of an era at the Fox News Channel,” she started by saying.
“As we mentioned earlier, Bill O’Reilly is leaving this chair and this network after more than 20 years. Bill has been the undisputed king of cable news and for good reason. He is an incredibly talented broadcaster who raised the bar for interviewers everywhere. He has also held his staff to exacting standards in his quest to put the best possible program on the air and they are great.”
And with that, she said good night as the Factor prepares to go off the air and Fox News and O’Reilly begin to grapple with their respective futures separate of each other.