It became increasingly clear over the past few days that, despite his high ratings, FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly wouldn’t be returning to the cable news network after his scheduled vacation ends later this week. That decision was formally announced today by the network.
Rupert Murdoch and his two sons Lachlan and James signed an internal memo, released today, that read, “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.”
O’Reilly had been plagued by allegations of sexual harassment. Several of those cases had been settled by O’Reilly, but when details emerged, advertisers of his popular show on FOX began to cancel. What began as a trickle of cancellations became a virtual tsunami as large companies like Mercedes-Benz, Allstate, and Bayer all pulled out of the show. The most recent count of departed sponsors topped 50.
Despite this recent exodus, O’Reilly’s program reportedly still pulled in $118 million in the first three quarters of 2016. His program averages 3.98 million viewers.
It’s not clear what lies ahead for either O’Reilly or his former network. FOX scrambled last year to fill the slot of departing talk show host Megyn Kelly, who left FOX amid another storm of sexual harassment claims against former network boss Roger Ailes. Kelly’s show was replaced by Tucker Carlson. Now, FOX will have to fill another prime time slot — one that’s been held by O’Reilly for over twenty years.
UPDATE: FOX News quickly announced its re-shuffled line-up, following the departure of Bill O’Reilly. Tucker Carlson will move into the 8pm ET slot, previously held by O’Reilly. “The Five” will move into the 9pm ET slot. Eric Bolling will take over the 5pm CT slot beginning on May 1. Until then “Special Report” with Bret Baier will extend to two hours.