© Ilya S. Savenok Television host Bill O’Reilly attends the Hollywood Reporter’s 2016 35 Most Powerful People in Media at Four Seasons Restaurant on April 6, 2016 in New York City.
Embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced tonight that he is taking a vacation. O’Reilly’s decision to go off the air in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal and advertiser boycott arguably has the appearance of a suspension, but O’Reilly worked to dispel that notion. He announced that he’d scheduled his trip “last fall” — well before the New York Times reported he paid $13 million to settle harassment claims. A Fox News spokesperson confirmed O’Reilly will return on April 24.
But according to four network sources, there’s talk inside Fox News that tonight’s show could be his last. Lawyers for the law firm Paul, Weiss, hired last summer by 21st Century Fox to investigate Roger Ailes, are currently doing a “deep dive” investigation into O’Reilly’s behavior. They’re focused now on sexual harassment claims by O’Reilly guest Wendy Walsh after she reported her claims via the company’s anonymous hotline.Fox News co-president Bill Shine has been working hard to keep O’Reilly, sources said. But O’Reilly’s future is in the [hands](http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/04/bill-oreillys-future-at-fox-is-in-rupert-murdochs-hands.html) of the Murdochs. “It’s up to the family,” the senior Fox News staffer said. The Murdochs are presently divided over how to handle it. Two highly-placed Fox News sources say 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch would like O’Reilly to be permanently taken off the air, while his father Rupert and older brother Lachlan are more inclined to keep him. (A spokesperson for the Murdochs declined to comment.)
That dynamic – James pushing for swift action, while Rupert resists – played out last summer in the Ailes scandal. James, of course, got his way with Ailes. With more than three dozen advertisers boycotting O’Reilly, Fox staffers speculate the same may happen to O’Reilly, perhaps as early as during his vacation. “The assumption is that he’ll exit in a non-embarrassing way,” one senior Fox News staffer told me.
“Around this time of year, I grab some vacation because it’s spring and Easter time,” O’Reilly told viewers during the final minutes of Tuesday’s program. “Last fall I booked a trip that should be terrific. Not going to tell you where it is but…I’ll have a full report when I return.”
A spokesperson for Fox News told BuzzFeed News that the vacation was pre-planned and that guest hosts will fill in while he is gone. O’Reilly is expected to return to the air on Monday, April 24, according to the network.
Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, said earlier this week that it has enlisted an outside law firm to investigate sexual harassment claims against its top-rated host, after one of O’Reilly’s accusers called the corporate hotline to report her allegations.
The company has remained relatively silent on the controversy, which erupted April 1st after the New York Times reported that five women received about $13 million to settle harassment allegations against the 67-year-old host, who has anchored the top-rated program on the cable news network for the past 16 years. O’Reilly has denied the claims.
In the days following, more than 70 advertisers have pulled their commercials from The O’Reilly Factor , citing concerns over the “disturbing allegations.” Fox has also remained relatively mum on the ad boycott, only commenting once that its clients’ ad buys had been “re-expressed” into other programs.
The swift backlash against The O’Reilly Factor has resulted in a drastic reduction in commercials. The amount of ad time from paying sponsors in his weeknight prime time show has fallen by more than 50 percent, according to Kantar Media.
Four weeks before the bombshell Times article, The O’Reilly Factor averaged 33 commercials totaling 14 minutes, 32 seconds. In the days following, paid commercial time fell to a low of seven spots and 4:40 on April 7th before bouncing back Monday to eleven spots and 7:20, Kantar Media said.
SRH, I wish justice would come his way, but its about money. and he makes tons of money for Fox. But, now, many advertisers are pulling away from O’ Reilly. I am a conservative and a Christian. But I am tired of O’Reilly’s arrogance. I AGREE WITH MARK LEVIN who regularly condemns O’Reilly as a corrupt idiot.
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