Fox News is preparing to sever ties with embattled host Bill O’Reilly, according to a new report.
The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday night that Fox is getting ready to let the star go following revelations that O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, the news channel’s parent company, have settled multiple accusations of sexual harassment against the host.
In the wake of a New York Times’ report about the settlements with at least five women, which amounted to roughly $13 million, there was a mass exodus of advertisers, putting additional pressure on the network to pull O’Reilly.
Last week, at the start of O’Reilly’s vacation, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch was reportedly ready to let “The O’Reilly Factor” host go. At the time, though, Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch, James’ father, and 21st Century Fox Co-Chairman Lachlan Murdoch, James’ older brother, were “more inclined to keep” O’Reilly.
But that appears to have changed according to the Journal, which is owned by News Corp, a media conglomeration founded by Rupert Murdoch.
A final decision on O’Reilly’s future at Fox will likely come in the next several days, according to people close to the situation. 21st Century Fox, which has not yet finalized an exit agreement with “The Factor” host, will hold a board meeting Thursday.
O’Reilly has denied any wrong doing, saying he paid settlements to “put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”
On Tuesday night, Marc Kasowitz, a lawyer for O’Reilly, said that the host, who draws some 4 million viewers every night, “has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.”
“This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons,” Kasowitz said. “That evidence will be put forth shortly and it is irrefutable.”
When O’Reilly, who is slated to return Monday, began his vacation April 11, he said the trip was planned last fall. But according to the Journal, the spring break started earlier than originally planned.
The 67-year-old host just recently renewed his contract with Fox at a salary of more than $20 million annually, people close to the situation said. However, the fact that dozens of advertisers have shifted their ads to other network programs has caused substantial problems for the long-time anchor.
According to attorney Lisa Bloom, who is representing former O’Reilly contributor Wendy Walsh as well as a black clerical worker who claimed the host would call her “hot chocolate,” told CNN’s Don Lemon Tuesday night that the embattled broadcaster “needs to go.”
.@LisaBloom on O'Reilly: "He needs to go" https://t.co/u52Ea97Ny8 https://t.co/mqbKIvejrw— CNN Tonight (@CNN Tonight)1492570379.0
“Our reaction is it’s about time,” Bloom said when Lemon shared the Journal’s reporting with her. “This man needs to be fired. ... He needs to go. It’s absolutely appalling that a man who has sexually harassed so many women ... would still be there after all these years.”