Bill O'Reilly fired from Fox News - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Bill O'Reilly fired from Fox News

Bill O'Reilly's show 'The O'Reilly Factor' is the highest rated show in cable news, but has lost dozens of sponsors since sexual harassment allegations surfaced. (Source: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File) Bill O'Reilly's show 'The O'Reilly Factor' is the highest rated show in cable news, but has lost dozens of sponsors since sexual harassment allegations surfaced. (Source: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

(RNN) - Bill O'Reilly, host of The O'Reilly Factor and Fox News' most-watched star, has been permanently removed from the cable news channel amid multiple sexual harassment claims, parent company 21st Century Fox said in a statement Wednesday.

"After a thorough and careful review of allegations against him, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Mr. O'Reilly will not return to the Fox News Channel," the company stated.

Details of compensation or any other terms of dismissal to O'Reilly were not made public

Fox News announced its new prime-time lineup would feature Tucker Carlson moving from 9 p.m. ET to O'Reilly's old time at 8 p.m., with panel show The Five following in the next hour.

Fox executive chairs Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, and CEO James Murdoch, sent an internal memo to staff saying the decision followed "an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel."

"By ratings standards, Bill O'Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news," the memo stated. "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 released a statement saying "it is tremendously disheartening that we party ways due to unfounded claims."

"I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved." 

A New York Magazine report earlier in the day stated O'Reilly's time on the channel had come to an end, with final details still being decided by company execs. That followed a Tuesday report from Wall Street Journal that Fox News was cutting ties with O'Reilly, 67. WSJ also is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

NY Mag said executives reportedly wanted to have a seamless transition to avoid "collateral damage" from letting go of its top star.

Attorney Lisa Bloom said Tuesday she was representing another woman who accused the news commentator of sexual harassment. She claimed she was called "hot chocolate" by O'Reilly in 2008, and he would grunt and leer at her. 

O'Reilly's attorney, Marc E. Kasowitz, said Tuesday in a statement that his client is the victim of "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."

The New York Times reported April 1 that Fox News has paid $13 million to five women to settle harassment claims made against O’Reilly. A report the same day from WSJ stated O'Reilly had just signed a new contract that would pay him around $18 million per year.

Amid the harassment claims, Mercedes Benz said they had "reassigned" their ads, becoming the first advertiser to drop sponsorship of the program.

"Given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now," the company said.

Dozens of advertisers followed suit. O'Reilly has disputed the claims and said his high-profile job has made him a target. He said he settled his claims to protect his children.

Fox initially put out a statement in support of their employee. 

"Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly," the company said. "While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News."

Viewership remained strong for O'Reilly, even as advertisers left. The shows ratings have declined since he went on vacation, with Eric Bolling, Greg Gutfeld and Dana Perino filling in as host.

Fox brought in law firm Paul, Weiss to investigate the claims, the same firm that investigated claims into sexual harassment by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.  

On April 11, amid the advertising free fall, O'Reilly announced he was going on a pre-planned vacation.  

O'Reilly Factor has been a ratings powerhouse for Fox News, the most watched show of cable news' highest-rated network. O'Reilly joined the network at its inception in 1996. He's also authored more than two dozen books. 

The fallout comes less than a year after Ailes left the company amid the allegations against him. 

Former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed suit against Ailes, saying she was fired her after she rebuffed his sexual advances. Other women claimed they too had been harassed by Ailes and in July 2016, he resigned. 

Gretchen Carlson eventually reached a settlement with the network.

"We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve," Fox said in a statement.

Megyn Kelly, another host of a prime time show, left the network in January and has signed on with NBC.

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