Fox News host Bill O’Reilly will not return to the network, 21st Century Fox announced Wednesday.
"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,” the network said in a statement.
Reports emerged this week that 21st Century Fox was leaning toward ousting O’Reilly in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported hours earlier that Fox News had decided to oust O’Reilly and execs were in talks about how to end the relationship “without causing collateral damage to the network.”
O’Reilly’s show lost about 90 advertisers after The New York Times reported earlier this month that five women were paid $13 million to settle sexual harassment suits.
21st Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch had reportedly said he was reluctant to fire O’Reilly because it would look like The New York Times report forced his hand.
Fox also announced Wednesday that Tucker Carlson is moving into O’Reilly’s highly coveted 8 p.m. time slot.
"The O'Reilly Factor" has been the top-rated cable news show for the past 15 years, creating big shoes to fill.
But Carlson has shown a knack for big ratings at Fox. Originally airing at 7 p.m. when it debuted in September, "Tucker Carlson Tonight" was moved to the 9 p.m. spot after Megyn Kelly left Fox News in November. Kelly had been the second most-watched host on cable, but Carlson bested her ratings in the time slot.
Taking over at 9 p.m. will be “The Five,” a panel show with six co-hosts: Kimberly Guilfoyle, Dana Perino, Bob Beckel, Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters and Juan Williams.
And the newly-open 5 p.m. spot will go to a new show hosted by Eric Bolling, a longtime O’Reilly fill-in and former “The Five” co-host. Bolling's show will debut May 1, with “Special Report with Bret Baier” stretching to two hours to fill the time until then.
A lawyer for O'Reilly said Monday that the host had been subject to a "smear campaign" by far-left groups.
“Bill O’Reilly has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America,” Marc E. Kasowitz said in a statement Tuesday, according to CNN.
The script that led to the official announcement of O'Reilly's departure mirrored that of former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes’s ouster.
In July 2016, Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by former host Gretchen Carlson, who filed suit in a New Jersey court. An internal investigation led by the law firm of Paul, Weiss resulted in Ailes’s abrupt departure two weeks later as more claims, including one by star Megyn Kelly, were revealed to investigators. Ailes had been with Fox News since its inception 20 years prior.
Similarly, on April 1, the New York Times report rocked the media world after revealing O’Reilly or 21st Century Fox had paid $13 million to settle harassment claims from five women.
An investigation at Fox by Paul, Weiss followed. Not long after, the company announced the most-watched cable news host of the past 15 years was not returning to the network he has called home since 1996.
All told, Fox News has lost three of its biggest names from its roster in the last year: Ailes, the brains behind the operation that propelled the network to dominance since 2001; Megyn Kelly, who was so coveted by the network she was reportedly offered $100 million to stay; and O'Reilly, who was essentially the face of the network and host of the most popular program at 8 p.m. weeknights.
Despite these losses, Fox News has continued to beat all comers in cable ratings, including non-news networks.
During the week of April 10-16, Fox finished ahead of all other basic cable channels in total viewers for the 15th consecutive week, according to Nielsen Media Research.
- Updated at 3:18 p.m.