Fox News has officially “cut ties” with Bill O’Reilly over his sexual harassment allegations.
The Wall Street Journal story came on a fast-moving day that saw more evidence that O’Reilly’s time at the network could be coming to an end.
First, New York magazine released a report stating that three sources inside the network said the Murdoch family was looking to let go of “The O’Reilly Factor” host. Then, reports of a new accuser emerged in The Hollywood Reporter, with an African-American woman alleging that during her time at Fox, in 2008, O’Reilly would refer to her as “hot chocolate” and “grunt at her like a wild boar.”
The nail in the coffin was a tweet from Matt Drudge – who rarely uses his social media account – seemed to imply he knew O’Reilly was finished.
O'Reilly has had tremendous run. Very few in the business get to decide when and how things end. Media is most brutal of all industries…
— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) April 18, 2017
O’Reilly has been off the air since April 11. While he has claimed that it was a regularly scheduled vacation, sources in the network told The Wall Street Journal that his departure for the break was earlier than previously expected.
O’Reilly’s problems began with an April 1 article in The New York Times that revealed the network had shelled out $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly.
The Times piece did acknowledge that “companies occasionally settle disputes they believe have little merit because it is less risky than taking things to trial, which can be costly and create embarrassing headlines,” protests outside Fox news headquarters and pressure from advertisers started to mount, despite O’Reilly’s ratings going up.
In its Tuesday report, New York magazine said Fox News patriarch Rupert Murdoch had resisted firing O’Reilly, in part because he didn’t want to be seen as giving in to a piece from The New York Times. However, Murdoch’s children, who have taken a more active role in Fox News parent News Corp. over the years, began to lean toward firing O’Reilly.
One factor that could influence the decision is an attempt by News Corp. to buy British pay-TV provider Sky. In May, British regulatory body Ofcom will decide whether the Murdoch-led company is “fit and proper” to own the massive provider.
A previous attempt by News Corp. to purchase Sky was withdrawn in 2011 after the News of the World hacking scandal came to light.