There was no immediate response from Bill O'Reilly's bosses Wednesday, April 19, 2017, to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women.
O'Reilly said in an April 1 statement that he had been unfairly targeted because of his public prominence. In it they said "O'Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news".
A staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, O'Reilly has been an anchor at Fox News since he started at the network in 1996.
The conservative commentator's last day on "The O'Reilly Factor" was April 11.
The announcement came just hours after the combative and right-wing television personality was photographed shaking hands with Pope Francis in St Peters Square, wearing a suit and tie, on holiday in the Italian capital. Apart from Kelly and O'Reilly, he also replaced Greta van Susteren whose departure from the news network was reportedly less than pleasant.
He had initially planned to return to his The O'Reilly Factor show on April 24, but as outrage mounted and new allegations of inappropriate behaviour surfaced, it became clear the company could no longer afford to back the star who helped bring Fox News to prominence almost 20 years ago.
Scores of companies yanked advertising from his show, the most popular in United States cable news watched on average by 3.98 million viewers in early 2017, according to Adweek. Twenty-First Century Fox's last fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2016, brought in a total of $7.65 billion in advertising revenue.
O'Reilly's departure is the second major blow for the right-leaning news network in nine months.
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O'Reilly's exit, which was first reported by NY magazine, follows that of former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who was forced to resign in July after being accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, including former anchor Gretchen Carlson. Ailes has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. But the New York Times reported that two of the O'Reilly settlements were reached after Ailes left.
O'Reilly's departure puts an end to cable's highest rated program and a $20 million-a-year job for the host.
Investors seemed to take the news in stride. Shares of Twenty-First Century Fox were down less than 1 percent at $30.50 in Wednesday afternoon trading.
The National Geographic channel says it has made no decision about its development of Bill O'Reilly's book "Killing Patton" following O'Reilly's exit from Fox News.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan are co-executive chairmen of the company and son James is chief executive officer.
"They could literally go dark during the time his programme airs and they would still be profitable", said Wieser. Concern over whether Fox broke the law by failing to disclose its settlements to investors is more likely to impact approval than whether the company is mired in sexual misconduct allegations, said Claire Enders of Enders Analysis, who has studied the Murdoch empire for years.
"What Rush Limbaugh was to talk radio, Bill O'Reilly has been to conservative television", said Mark Feldstein, communication professor at the University of Maryland.