Bill O’Reilly’s professional transition after his exit from Fox News won’t be easy.
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.
On Wednesday, 21st Century Fox 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.
“I think that O’Reilly is going to struggle tremendously to return because he won’t have the platform,” Eric Schiffer, crisis/brand management expert and CEO of ReputationManagementConsultants.com, tells PEOPLE. “I think what people underestimate is that these networks, like Fox, still hold tremendous power. When you are not on a platform, it becomes difficult. That’s not to say that another network might now pick him up. I think for some they will view O’Reilly as toxic in the short-term. He’s got a dangerous cloud for media executives to pull the trigger on at this point.”
“But certainly there could be an opportunity for him on his own platform. For instance, he could create his own show, he could create his own radio show and monetize that. But I think the appeal and opportunity for revenue is going to be far more limited,” he adds.
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, telling the New Republic of their working relationship: “Our plans have not changed.”)
Murdoch added 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.”
According to Schiffer, Fox’s decision to cut ties with O’Reilly will in turn help the brand.
“I think Fox is going to be stunningly successful,” says Schiffer. “The bench at Fox is all-star.”
He adds, “I think that Fox made a decision and wants to show with their actions that they’re serious about that decision. They want to send a signal to women that this is going to be a safe environment and putting him back on would be inconsistent with that.”
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.