Bill O’Reilly and his popular cable television program, “The O’Reilly Factor,” have left Fox News after more than 20 years.
“The O’Reilly Factor” typically won its 8 p.m. time slot on weeknights and had found more viewership this year than ever before. Ratings, however, were not enough for Fox to ignore recent controversy surrounding the show’s host.
A New York Times story published April 1 revealed that five women had been paid a total of $13 million in settlements to avoid pursuing charges against O'Reilly with sexual harassment. In the wake of these allegations, more than 50 advertisers abandoned the show.
"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, Fox News' parent company, said in a public statement on Wednesday.
O'Reilly had been taking a break from the show and was on vacation in Italy when the news broke. He was even pictured meeting with Pope Francis on Wednesday.
"I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel," said O'Reilly in a public statement.
He added it was "tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims."
The cable news host called the whole debacle "the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today."
Because O'Reilly's show was cancelled while he was on a planned leave from the program, the popular television host leaves Fox News without a proper final show or his usual public platform to fight off criticism or controversy. And longtime and loyal fans of cable's number-one host are not at all pleased.
One positive note out of the controversy-fueled change is that the replacement for O'Reilly's popular program will be Tucker Carlson's "Tucker Carlson Tonight," which has been a juggernaut in the ratings for Fox News as Carlson's libertarian leanings, sharp wit, and willingness to go toe-to-toe with people who disagree with him have brought in high numbers of younger viewers.
"Tucker Carlson Tonight" will take over O'Reilly's time slot starting on Monday, and the also-popular "The Five" will take over his previous 9 p.m. slot.