“The O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly, the most-watched and most profitable personality on cable, is officially out at Fox News. Here’s everything you need to know about the Fox profit machine’s fall from grace amid sexual harassment scandals.
O’Reilly has dominated the ratings during his run at Fox News, ranking as the No. 1 most-watched cable news host — a position he’s held for 16 years. Research firm Kantar Media estimated “The O’Reilly Factor” earned $446 million from advertisers between 2014 and 2016. See the 2017 cable rankings here.
2004: In O’Reilly’s first public run-in with sexual harassment claims, the host settled a lawsuit filed by his former producer, Andrea Mackris, according to a Washington Post report. The payout in the settlement was not disclosed.
January 2017: The current scandal begins to bubble when the New York Times reports that Fox News and O’Reilly secretly settled a sexual harassment lawsuit in January. Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News employee, alleged that in 2011, O’Reilly tried to derail her career after she turned down sexual advances he made on her.
April 1, 2017: The New York Times reports O’Reilly and Fox News have settled sexual harassment claims with five different women aimed at the host over the years. Two of those settlements had been previously reported but three were unknown. The payouts to women to end their suits total $13 million. Read more here.
April 1: In addition to the settlements, two other women allege sexual harassment against O’Reilly. Former Fox host Andrea Tantaros alleged he sexually harassed her in a lawsuit against former Fox CEO Roger Ailes. Radio host Wendy Walsh also came forward to allege O’Reilly made sexual advances on her when she was a guest on his show in 2013, and reneged on a promise to get her a job at the network after she rebuffed him.
April 4: As the scandal grows, “Factor” sponsors begin to jump ship. Eleven sponsors leave the show, including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, BMW, GlaxoSmithKline, Allstate, T. Rowe Price and Constant Contact. Read the full story here.
April 5: Donald Trump supports the host, saying he “shouldn’t have settled.” Trump also said “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” Read the rest of the story here.
April 5: Even more sponsors pull their support. The advertisers jumping ship include Lexus, Credit Karma, Bayer, TrueCar, Wayfair, Orkin, Society for Human Resources Management, CFP Board and Coldwell Banker. The total number of sponsors departing the show now totals at least 20. Read more here.
April 5: As the scandal heats up, others weigh in, including former Obama speechwriters. Celebrities such as Patton Oswalt and Bette Midler call for O’Reilly’s firing on Twitter. D.L. Hughley wonders if the host has become a target because of his money, amid a few jokes at his expense.
April 6: Amid the scandal and as more advertisers pull out from “The O’Reilly Factor,” two sponsors tell TheWrap their ads were aired by Fox News against their wishes. Both MyPillow and Crowne Plaza said their ads were aired despite instructions to Fox not to do so. Read more here.
April 7: Fox apparently stands behind the host despite sexual harassment allegations, and women at the network are reportedly “in anguish” that O’Reilly went “unrebuked.” Meanwhile, the number of advertisers who have pulled out from the show climbs to 60 or more. Read the full story here.
April 7: Angie’s List, an advertiser that vocally stood by O’Reilly through the scandal, bows to public boycott pressure and drops its “Factor” sponsorship. Read the story here.
April 9: Fox News pledges to investigate the sexual harassment claims, including Walsh’s. Read the full story here.
April 11: Fox News airs what might have been the final episode of “The O’Reilly Factor.” The April 11 episode is O’Reilly’s last before a vacation he said he scheduled in the fall, running until April 24. But reports suggest he may not return to the network when his vacation ends. Read more here.
April 13: In a letter congratulating Fox News on recent successes, Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch fails to mention the ongoing scandal. Read the full story here.
April 18: Another woman comes forward to allege O’Reilly sexually and racially harassed her as a protest advocating O’Reilly’s firing takes place at the Fox News headquarters in New York City. According to a statement, the woman is “not asking for money, just accountability.” Read more here.
April 18: The Wall Street Journal, a publication owned by the Murdoch family (who also own Fox news), reports the network is looking to cut ties with the host. Reportedly, the Fox News board plans to meet to decide what to do before O’Reilly returns from vacation on April 24. Read the full story here.
April 19: Women’s advocacy group UltraViolet urges Fox to “stop protecting sexual harassers” and fire O’Reilly in an online ad. Read more here.
April 19: Fox News parent company 20th Century Fox releases a statement that O’Reilly will not return to the network. Read the story here.