On Tuesday night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced that he is taking a brief vacation from his hit cable news program The O’Reilly Factor. But with disturbing claims of sexual harassment continuing to swirl around the divisive political commentator, network sources within Fox News told New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman not to be surprised if O’Reilly’s vacation becomes permanent.
— Brianna Sacks (@bri_sacks) April 12, 2017
O’Reilly’s break from TV comes in the wake of a bombshell New York Times report that he and Fox News paid $13 million to at least five women to settle sexual harassment claims made against him. In the aftermath of the investigative report, nearly two dozen sponsors reportedly pulled advertising from The O’Reilly Factor. Pressure on O’Reilly continued to increase amid reports that attorneys for the law firm, Paul, Weiss — the same fire hired to investigate claims of harassment leveled against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes — would be launching a “deep dive” investigation into O’Reilly’s alleged behavior in response to a harassment claim from former Fox contributor Dr. Wendy Walsh.
O’Reilly, a loyal Ailes supporter, has continued to defend the deposed media mogul after his ouster — even going so far as to tell Megyn Kelly she had made the network “look bad” by sharing her own experience of being harassed by Ailes. In August, former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros further alleged that both Ailes and O’Reilly had sexually harassed her. In a new lawsuit filed on April 3, further harassment claims were leveled against Ailes by Fox News on-air contributor Julie Roginsky, who also alleged that Fox News co-president Bill Shine had “aided and abetted” him in his “unlawful conduct.”
According to four network sources cited in Sherman’s report, Shine has been working hard to keep O’Reilly with the network even as the Murdoch family finds itself split over how to handle the situation. Two high-placed Fox News sources said that 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch had been pushing his father, Rupert, and older brother, Lachlan, to drop O’Reilly, but that the elder Murdochs were reluctant to do so. A similar situation also played out with Ailes, culminating in James persuading his father to let Ailes go.
According to a Fox News spokesperson, O’Reilly is slated to return to the air on April 24.
Read the full story at New York magazine.