Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who was fired by the network Wednesday in the wake of sexual harassment allegations that had become an issue Fox couldn’t ignore, stood proud in a statement he issued after word of his ousting was made public.
“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,” the statement said.
O’Reilly then addressed the reason for being let go.
“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,” the statement said.
O’Reilly finished his statement by focusing on the positive.
“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,” the statement said.
News of his release came the same day O’Reilly was on vacation in Italy, where he was seen taking a picture while shaking hands with Pope Francis during the pope’s weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) April 19, 2017
Throughout the allegations of sexual harassment against him, O’Reilly has maintained he never did anything wrong.
When the New York Times reported April 1 that sexual harassment lawsuits against him were settled for $13 million, O’Reilly used similar language to that used in his statement Wednesday.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” his statement earlier this month said. “In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.
“But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children,” that statement said.
“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me,” the statement concluded.
Even among the controversy over the sexual harassment allegations, O’Reilly was enjoying the success in ratings.
The first three months of this year were not only the most-watched quarter in the history of The O’Reilly Factor, it also set the record for the highest viewership of any single program in the history of cable news programming.