Fox News Channel, nearly untouchable, no matter how skewed or vile the reports and commentary on some of its programs, has met its match.
Wednesday, parent company 21st Century Fox dismissed Fox News’ biggest star, Bill O’Reilly.
Fox followed not devotees of the News Channel in making its decision against O’Reilly but the broad public — the people.
These regular folks buy the products of advertisers who left “The O’Reilly Factor.” They overwhelm O’Reilly watchers in number.
The advertisers acted as the people’s proxy by boycotting the show in protest over five cases accusing O’Reilly of sexual harassment or other foul action. The cases were settled with payments of about $13 million from O’Reilly and Fox, reports The New York Times.
Fox would have you believe that O’Reilly’s departure was a joint decision.
In a one-sentence statement Wednesday, 21st Century Fox said, “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.”
O’Reilly denies wrongdoing.
The people arose after an April 1 report by The New York Times. The article detailed accusations in each of the five cases.
Rachel Witlieb Bernstein was a Fox News junior producer. O’Reilly screamed at Bernstein, witnesses say. She left the network. Fox settled with Bernstein in 2002. The amount is not public.
Andrea Mackris was a producer for “The O’Reilly Factor.” She filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against O’Reilly. He settled with Mackris for about $9 million in 2004.
Rebecca Gomez Diamond was a Fox Business News host. She recorded conversations with O’Reilly. As a result, he settled with Diamond in 2011 for an amount that is not public.
Laurie Dhue was a Fox News anchor. She made sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly after she left the network in 2008. Fox settled with Dhue for more than $1 million.
Juliet Huddy presented and co-hosted various programs for Fox News. She accused O’Reilly of making sexual advancements in 2011. Fox settled with her for $1.6 million in September.
Two additional women have spoken about inappropriate behavior by O’Reilly, The Times reported in its April 1 article. They have not received settlements.
Wendy Walsh, who made guest appearances on “The O’Reilly Factor,” said O’Reilly made an advance and offered to arrange a Fox News job for her.
Andrea Tantaros accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment in a 2016 lawsuit against O’Reilly and former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes. The lawsuit is ongoing.
Fox fired Ailes in July, following allegations of sexual harassment that led to a company investigation. Fox paid Ailes $40 million upon his departure.
Although Ailes and O’Reilly were forced out following complaints of a similar sort, the manner differed.
Even though Ailes was a founder of Fox News, he did not hold the popularity with viewers that O’Reilly did.
Fox had known about complaints against O’Reilly and had taken part in financial settlements with employees for more than a decade. Yet, for so long, the company took no action against its star commentator.
Only when advertisers left O’Reilly’s show out of concern over customer reaction, and protests sprang up among those beyond the Fox News faithful, did the company bear down on its No. 1 host.
In the end, the people drove 21st Century Fox to remove O’Reilly from Fox News Channel.