Bill O'Reilly Out at Fox News After Sex Harassment Allegations

O'Reilly's departure creates new challenges for Fox

Fox News neocon blowhard Bill O'Reilly was officially ousted by the network Wednesday as a result of a growing sexual harassment scandal.

The company's statement came amid reports that Fox was preparing to cut ties with O'Reilly in light of a barrage of sexual-harassment allegations. Its leading female star, Megyn Kelly, decamped for NBC in January.

The three also said they were confident in finding a successor and that the network would "continue to be a powerhouse in cable news".

That certainly could happen, though it probably won't be easy.

In a memo to the 21st Century Fox staff, the leadership trio of Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, praised O'Reilly for being "one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news".

The network's most popular personality was sacked after a New York Time report earlier this month that said five women had been paid $13 million in settlements after they alleged sexual harassment and mistreatment.

But O'Reilly has been on Fox News for more than two decades. "The O'Reilly Factor" has generated a huge ad bonanza for Fox, one that yielded more than $178 million in 2015. Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox were down less than 1 percent at $30.50 in Wednesday afternoon trading.

"Tucker Carlson Tonight" will take over O'Reilly's 8 p.m. time slot. "The Five" will move into the 9 p.m. ET timeslot starting Monday.

All eyes will now focus on O'Reilly's replacement.

Others figure that O'Reilly's firing won't be a sticking point for most Fox viewers.

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Whether O'Reilly's absence from Fox will change the direction of the conservative movement, Jon Fleischman, conservative blogger from Orange County said mostly not.

And 21st Century Fox is much bigger than O'Reilly, Fox News and its aging, conservative audience.

O'Reilly is also one of the country's most popular nonfiction authors. The channel's majority owner is Fox News Channel parent company 21st Century Fox.

"What Rush Limbaugh was to talk radio, Bill O'Reilly has been to conservative television", said Mark Feldstein, communication professor at the University of Maryland.

A bigger issue for investors is what the Murdochs will do to prevent the company being in the headlines again just a few months from now, Wieser said.

In a nod to the allegations against O'Reilly, the statement closed with "we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect". But the New York Times reported that two of the O'Reilly settlements were reached after Ailes left.

O'Reilly said in an April 1 statement that he had been unfairly targeted because of his public prominence.

He had initially planned to return to his The O'Reilly Factor show on April 24, but as outrage mounted and new allegations of inappropriate behaviour surfaced, it became clear the company could no longer afford to back the star who helped bring Fox News to prominence almost 20 years ago.

O'Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard are due to release another book in the "Killing" series in September, and a spokeswoman for publisher Henry Holt and Co. said that plans had not changed.

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