Embattled anchor Bill O'Reilly's future at Fox News looks uncertain

Richard Drew AP File

Bill O'Reilly, the powerful host at Fox News for 20 years, has been forced out of his prime-time position amid a series of sexual harassment allegations against him.

Following the New York Times' report on April 1 that five women received settlements after accusing O'Reilly of sexual harassment or verbal abuse, Fox covered it only once: a brief mention on Kurtz's weekly media criticism program the day after the story was published. Before and after the accusations, O'Reilly remained one of the most popular commentators on cable news.

She recalled one incident in which O'Reilly "got Margaret's name wrong, and she said, 'Hey, get my name right.' And he said, 'Oh, I'm sorry there's a lot of blondes in this operation, I can't keep you all straight, Megyn Kelly is coming up.' He starts telling all these blonde names". His bluster, confidence and authority made him a signature talent for Fox News when it toppled CNN as the cable news leader in 2002 and kept it on top in the ratings ever since.

He ended by inviting O'Reilly, 67, to come and live with him and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart in a mountain cabin. 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.

Perino closed Wednesday's show saying: "It is the end of an era here at Fox News Channel".

O'Reilly said in an April 1 statement that he had been unfairly targeted because of his public prominence.

O'Reilly was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women at Fox News. If O'Reilly's viewership craters, it could hurt audiences in the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. slots, sapping revenue from O'Reilly's former slot and those around it.

Sacked Fox News host Bill O'Reilly blasts 'unfounded' harassment claims
Wednesday's new denial by O'Reilly - calling the harassment claims unfounded - may be significant to potential business partners. The report led to O'Reilly losing dozens of advertisers on his program, which has the highest ratings in cable news.

NY magazine reported Wednesday that executives were preparing to announce O'Reilly's departure before his return from Italy and were holding emergency meetings to discuss how to sever the relationship without damaging the network. No more silencing women!

And 21st Century Fox is much bigger than O'Reilly, Fox News and its aging, conservative audience. "But you have to put some spine back into the Murdoch family and the Fox News Channel board because you are about to lose Bill O'Reilly".

Henry Holt also has an untitled O'Reilly book scheduled for release in September.

Marc Kasowitz, O'Reilly's lawyer, said in a statement Tuesday that the television host "has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America". "I think O'Reilly will become less of a factor going forward".

Stephen Colbert, who mercilessly parodied O'Reilly on "The Colbert Report", paid tongue-in-cheek homage to the deposed host Wednesday on Colbert's late-night CBS show.

So I went to his executive producer and, I said he needs to apologize and he needs to never do that again, or I'm not doing his show anymore.

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