After two decades as the “undisputed king of cable news,” Fox News bid Bill O’Reilly a terse farewell.
Just hours after his firing, O’Reilly’s name was scrubbed from his former show in the 8 p.m. time slot. Substitute host Dana Perino presided over The Factor.
She began the show by saying, “Before we get to the other big stories of the day, we want to address a situation many of you may already be aware of. Bill O’Reilly, who hosted this program for 20 years, is leaving the Fox News Channel. We know that you, his very loyal viewers, will have a lot of feelings about this and we will talk more about it later on in the program.”
Toward the end of the hour, Perino spent one minute discussing O’Reilly’s firing following several accusations of sexual harassment from multiple women.
“It is the end of an era here at the Fox News Channel,” she stated. “As we mentioned earlier, Bill O’Reilly is leaving this chair and this network after more than 20 years. Bill has been the undisputed king of cable news — and for good reason. He is an incredibly talented broadcaster who raised the bar for interviewers everywhere. He has also held his staff to exacting standards in his quest to put the best possible program on the air, and they are great.”
“And you, his audience, responded in record numbers, making The Factor the number one cable news show for more than 16 years,” Perino continued, again dropping O’Reilly’s name from the program’s title. “You have also been loyal, and we can’t tell you how much that means to everyone on The Factor.”
Perino did not address the reasons for O’Reilly’s dismissal, and neither O’Reilly nor the network have commented on the financial particulars of his exit — though CNBC has reported that O’Reilly stands to walk away with $25 million per year since his latest contract (renewed just before his exit from Fox News) stipulated a limit of one-year’s salary upon his departure from the company.
Later, on Friday morning, promotional posters for The O’Reilly Factor had apparently been removed from the outside of the Fox News building in midtown Manhattan.
Recently hired host Tucker Carlson will take the 8 p.m. slot starting on Monday, the network said.
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O’Reilly — who is currently on a long-planned vacation in Italy and was seen shaking hands with the Pope in Vatican City this week — was officially outed by 21st Century Fox on Wednesday. The network issued a statement stating that the network and O’Reilly have agreed that he won’t be returning.
“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,” reads the statement obtained by PEOPLE.
In April, The New York Times reported that five women were paid a collective $13 million by O’Reilly and Fox News for agreeing not to file lawsuits or speak publicly about allegations that he harassed them. The settlements — involving women who have either worked with O’Reilly or appeared on his show — took place sporadically between 2002 and 2016.
Addressing the allegations, O’Reilly posted a statement to his website on April 1, emphasizing that his position has made him “vulnerable to lawsuits,” despite the fact that “no one has ever filed a complaint,” about him with the Human Resources Department.
“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel,” he wrote. “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.”
O’Reilly’s exit comes nearly a year after former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes quit amid Gretchen Carlson‘s sexual harassment lawsuit against him.