Because You Asked: Why Did Fox News Fire Bill O’Reilly?
An ATP Report Production – on this episode Barry Nussbaum reviews both the human resources violations at Fox News and the resulting enormous economic boycott of the O’Reilly factor as a result.
Welcome to this segment of Because You Asked, I’m Barry Nussbaum.
Fox News has fired Bill O’Reilly, the biggest star in its 20-year history, after mounting allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior prompted the network to end his program.
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations,” parent company 21st Century Fox said in a statement, “the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News channel.”
What seemed impossible just a short time ago has happened, signally an end to O’Reilly’s long reign as the top-rated host in cable news. Today on Because You Asked we will answer the question: why did Fox cut ties with its biggest star who was still number one in the cable news ratings? The answer is quite simply this week’s lawsuit against O’Reilly and the Fox network was the last straw.
First some background:
Recently the world learned that O’Reilly, along with Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox, has paid $13 million to settle 5 separate sexual harassment complaints. The settlements totaling $13 million were paid out to five women, in exchange the women agreeing not to file lawsuits against O’Reilly or speak about their accusations. Of the five settlements, three were paid out by Fox News and two were paid by O’Reilly. Two had also already been reported on in the media: one involved $9 million paid in 2004 to a producer, and the other was agreed on last year with a former on-air personality, which was previously reported. The other three settlements include sexual harassment claims and allegations of verbal abuse which involve O’Reilly allegedly criticizing a producer in front of colleagues.
In addition to the women who received settlements, two others have also accused O’Reilly of inappropriate behavior. Wendy Walsh, a regular guest on “The O’Reilly Factor,” was offered a paid contributor position at the network. O’Reilly did not follow through on securing her a job at Fox News according to her statement after she refused an invitation to go to his hotel suite in 2013.
“I feel bad that some of these old guys are using mating strategies that were acceptable in the 1950s and are not acceptable now,” Walsh said, “I hope young men can learn from this.”
So, that is the HR bad news, here is really bad financial news: “The O’Reilly Factor” has now lost 60 advertisers in the wake of a New York Times report that five different women had reached settlements over allegations of sexual harassment or verbal abuse against the show’s host, Bill O’Reilly. Here are some of the companies pulling their ads from “The O’Reilly Factor:”
- Ainsworth Pet Nutrition
- Constant Contact
- Credit Karma
- Rowe Price
- Society for Human Resource Management
- Coldwell Banker
- H&R Block
- Weather Tech
- Jenny Craig
- Old Dominion Freight Line
- Amica Insurance
- Pacific Life
- Stanley Steemer
- Eli Lilly and Company
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Consumer Cellular
- Land Rover
- Next Day Blinds
- Moberg Pharma AB
- Mattress Firm
- Laser Spine Institute
- Angie’s List
So, while some may argue that Fox did the right thing by protecting female employees at Fox, it could be said that the network got hit so hard in the wallet, that the decision was a financial one rather than an HR one. We may never know the true motive for this decision. Now that the decision has been made, it is not clear if Fox will allow him back on the air, even to do a sign-off to his faithful audience, which averages over 3 million viewers per night.
The top-rated host recently signed a multi-year contract worth a reported $20 million per year, which could mean Fox will have a large pay out, now that they are parting ways with O’Reilly.
One more thing, former Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes, was forced to step down last summer following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Both Ailes and O’Reilly started with Fox News channel when the network launched in 1996. “The O’Reilly Factor” has been the number one rated program in cable news since 2001.
It is now perfectly clear that Fox News will not tolerate harassment by their stars or management and neither will Fox’s advertisers!
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