Bill O'Reilly out at Fox News as harassment claims pile up

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This afternoon, the controlling owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, announced that the network is dropping O'Reilly after a thorough review of sexual harassment accusations against him.

The five women who received settlements either worked for O'Reilly or appeared as guests on his program, according to The New York Times.

After founding Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations last summer, the Times looked into allegations in O'Reilly's past.

As we reported last week, an independent analysis by the ad-tracking firm iSpot.tv showed O'Reilly's program had lost about half its advertisers in a span of several weeks due to the allegations. He's now on vacation in Italy and was set to return on April 24.

"I would like to address questions about Bill O'Reilly's future at Fox News". He thanked his viewers and noted the success Fox had achieved. 21st Century Fox leaders Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James said in a memo to Fox staff that their decision to axe O'Reilly came following an "extensive review" into the charges.

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik has been covering the controversy and joins us now from NY.

In the statement at the time O'Reilly said that he had settled only to spare his children from the controversy. The host is presumably owed tens of millions of dollars under the terms of his multi-year contract, though the contract may have contained clauses allowing Fox News to get out of the deal. His own 9 p.m. slot will be replaced by The Five, a show that hosts a roundtable of commentators on different issues.

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In a move that some might view as deeply ironic, given O'Reilly's current circumstances, the embattled host was victorious when he encouraged Pepsi to cut ties with rapper Ludacris because the latter was "a man who degrades women". She was also suing Roger Ailes, the company's former chairman who was forced out past year amid his own sexual harassment scandal.

"I understand how hard this has been for many of you", Rupert Murdoch said in a memo to Fox staff. "You can't underestimate the influence and the profits that he brought into Fox News for all these years and that's why they hesitated so long in doing the right thing".

He added: "By ratings standards, Bill O'Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news". With a profit centre gone, 21st Century Fox stock fell nearly 1 per cent Wednesday in heavy trading. O'Reilly said those slaves were well-fed and had "decent lodgings".

While some outlets accused O'Reilly of exaggerating his experience reporting from risky locales, Stewart accused those same outlets of being disingenuous, saying they were "putting in a tremendous amount of work to say the emperor has no clothes, when the emperor has spent, like, the last 20 years going..."

Both Fox and O'Reilly confirmed O'Reilly's departure from the network earlier Wednesday.

His book publishing partner, Henry Holt, said Wednesday that "our plans have not changed".

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