Fox News ousts O’Reilly over sex scan­dal claims

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER

Long­time host Bill O’Reilly has left the Fox News Chan­nel in the wake of per­sis­tent ac­cu­sa­tions of work­place sex­ual ha­rass­ment, de­part­ing a pro­gram that has been the top-rated prime-time ca­ble show for the past 18 years.

In re­cent weeks the vet­eran news­man has been ac­cused by sev­eral women of sex­ual mis­con­duct ei­ther in an of­fice set­ting or on the Fox News pro­duc­tion set. The charge and its fall­out have been on the public radar for weeks, and the fi­nal out­come ar­rived Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon in a terse state­ment.

“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 re­leased later Wed­nes­day evening, Mr. O’Reilly called it “tremen­dously dis­heart­en­ing that we part ways due to com­pletely un­founded claims. But that is the un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity many of us in the public eye must live with to­day.”

The sit­u­a­tion has been brew­ing for weeks and picked up con­sid­er­able speed when Mr. O’Reilly’s at­tor­ney, Marc Ka­sowitz, ear­lier this week said his client was the vic­tim of a “bru­tal cam­paign of char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion that is un­prece­dented in post-McCarthy­ist Amer­ica.”

Mr. Ka­sowitz said his law firm will soon re­veal ev­i­dence of “a smear cam­paign that is be­ing or­ches­trated by far-left or­ga­ni­za­tions bent on de­stroy­ing O’Reilly for po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial rea­sons.”

Long­time ad­ver­tis­ers be­gan drop­ping their sup­port for the show weeks ago; some press re­ports said that Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly have paid out $13 mil­lion to set­tle sev­eral of the ha­rass­ment claims, though oth­ers were still out­stand­ing.

In the mean­time, im­me­di­ate changes are ahead for the net­work, which has been rated No. 1 across the en­tire ca­ble realm for the last 15 weeks, best­ing such ri­vals as CNN and MSNBC, as well as HGTV and ESPN.

Begin­ning Mon­day, “Tucker Carl­son Tonight” will take over to the popular 8 p.m. time slot now left va­cant; Mr. Carl­son will broad­cast live from Fox News’ Wash­ing­ton, D.C., bureau. Dana Perino filled in on Wed­nes­day’s show and will do the same Thurs­day night; Greg Gut­feld is slated to host Fri­day night.

“The Five” will move into the 9 p.m. time slot for­merly held by Mr. Carl­son’s show, start­ing Mon­day.

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