The host of the highest-rated primetime show on cable news is out of a job.
Bill O’Reilly, the long-time host of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, is out following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. The New York Times reported earlier this month that either O’Reilly or Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, paid $13 million to five women in exchange for them not speaking publicly or filing court papers about their allegations.
“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,” 21st Century Fox says in a statement released Wednesday.
O’Reilly has been on vacation for the past week and was scheduled to return on April 24. His last time hosting “The O’Reilly Factor” was April 11.
In a statement of his own, O’Reilly says, “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.”
Fox News says “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which had followed the “Factor” at 9 p.m. ET, will move up to the 8 o’clock spot. “The Five” will move from daytime to primetime to take over Carlson’s 9 o’clock slot, with “Hannity” remaining in place at 10 p.m.
O’Reilly’s departure will likely include a sizable financial buyout. Fox News renewed his $20 million annual contract in March.
“The O’Reilly Factor” consistently draws the biggest audience on cable news in primetime. For the first quarter of 2017 it averaged just under 4 million nightly viewers and 728,000 in the key news demographic of adults 25-54.
In the wake of the Times report, however, dozens of advertisers pulled commercials from “The O’Reilly Factor” even as the show’s ratings stayed strong.