NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel's parent company fired Bill O'Reilly on Wednesday following an investigation into harassment allegations, bringing a stunning end to cable television news' most popular program and one that came to define the bravado of his network over 20 years.
O'Reilly lost his job on the same day he was photographed in Rome shaking the hand of Pope Francis.
The downfall of Fox's most popular — and most lucrative — personality began with an April 2 report in The New York Times that five women had been paid a total of $13 million to keep quiet about unpleasant encounters with O'Reilly, who has denied any wrongdoing. Dozens of his show's advertisers fled within days, even though O'Reilly's viewership increased.
O'Reilly's exit came nine months after his former boss, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, was ousted following allegations of sexual harassment.
Following the Times story, 21st Century Fox said it had asked the same law firm that investigated Ailes to look into O'Reilly's behavior. 21st Century Fox leaders Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James said in a memo to Fox staff that their decision to ax O'Reilly came following an “extensive review” into the charges.
“We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect,” the Murdochs said in a memo to Fox News staff members.
Fox said Tucker Carlson would move into O'Reilly's time slot — the second time in three months he's replaced an exiting prime-time personality. Carlson, a veteran pundit who has hosted shows on CNN, MSNBC and PBS, had taken over for Megyn Kelly in January when she announced she was moving to NBC News. “The Five,” a talk show with five rotating hosts that regularly airs at 5 p.m. ET, will move into the 9 p.m. time slot. Eric Bolling will host a new show that airs at 5 p.m. starting next month, the company said.