Bill O'Reilly Out at Fox News After 20 Years amid Sexual Harassment Allegations
Bill O’Reilly has parted ways with Fox News after more than 20 years with the network.
21st Century Fox issued a statement on Wednesday stating that the network and O’Reilly have agreed that he won’t be returning to the network.
“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.
Shortly after, News Corp Executive Chairman and Fox News acting CEO Rupert Murdoch sent out a similar internal memo obtained by PEOPLE that acknowledged, “By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable.” (O’Reilly’s publisher Henry Holt also showed support for, telling the New Republic of their working relationship: “Our plans have not changed.”)
But, added Murdoch in his memo, “Most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”
Following news of his departure, O’Reilly issued the following statement to PEOPLE: “Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television.”
O’Reilly’s statement continues: “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.”
The 67-year-old longtime O’Reilly Factor host — who is currently on a long-planned vacation in Italy and was seen shaking hands with the Pope in Vatican City on Wednesday — is leaving the network after sexual harassment allegations from multiple women were brought against him.
The Factor will continue for the remainder of this week at 8 p.m. ET with guest hosts Dana Perino on Wednesday and Thursday night and Greg Gutfeld on Friday night, according to the statement. Starting Monday, Tucker Carlson Tonight will take over the 8 p.m. ET time slot, broadcasting live from FNC’s Washington, DC bureau. Additionally, The Five will move into the 9 p.m. ET time slot starting Monday.
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.”
After the settlements were reported, The O’Reilly Factor lost more than half of its advertisers within a week, according to The New York Times.
In a statement to The Times, 21st Century Fox recently said: “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. 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.”
On April 11, O’Reilly announced that he would be taking a vacation, adding that he scheduled the trip “last fall.” The break came after dozens of advertisers pulled their commercials from The O’Reilly Factor in the wake of the New York Times report.
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.
O’Reilly has been the host of The O’Reilly Factor since 1996.