Bill O'Reilly out at Fox News

Harassment claims against TV news host were piling up for years

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Bill O'Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host at Fox News, the company said Wednesday, after the disclosure of settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His abrupt ouster ends his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television.

"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," 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, said in a statement.

O'Reilly is departing 2 1/2 weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by him even as sexual harassment allegations against him mounted. The Times found that the company and O'Reilly had reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.

Since then, more than 50 advertisers had abandoned his show. Inside the company, women questioned whether top executives were serious about maintaining a culture based on "trust and respect," as they had promised last summer when another sexual harassment scandal led to the ouster of Roger E. Ailes as chairman of Fox News.

That put pressure on 21st Century Fox and the Murdoch family, which controls the company. After the dismissal of Ailes, the company struck two settlements involving sexual harassment complaints against O'Reilly and extended his contract.

Last week, the Murdochs enlisted the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to investigate O'Reilly's behavior after one woman who had related complaints against O'Reilly to The Times called the Fox hotline to report her allegations. Since then, other complaints have been lodged, including one on Wednesday by a current Fox News contributor.

O'Reilly and Ailes have denied the allegations against them. In a statement late Wednesday, O'Reilly praised Fox News but said it was "tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims."

O'Reilly will be succeeded in the 8 p.m. Eastern slot by Tucker Carlson, who moved to the channel's prime-time lineup only in January.


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