Amid the damaging sexual harassment allegations that have emerged against Bill O’Reilly this month, Fox News Channel’s top-rated host announced he is taking a vacation.
At the end of his show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” on Tuesday, the host said he had scheduled a trip “last fall,” which would have been long before the New York Times published a story revealing that O’Reilly and his network have paid $13 million to five women as settlements for sexual harassment complaints.
Around this time of year, O’Reilly said on his show, “I grab some vacation, because it’s spring and Easter time. Last fall, I booked a trip that should be terrific.” He will return April 24, Fox News told reporters.
O’Reilly spokesman Mark Fabiani told CNNMoney that O’Reilly will be replaced by rotating substitute hosts during his absence.
The host’s apparent vacation comes after dozens of companies have pulled advertisements from his show, demonstrating a mass exodus from the airwaves in the wake of news of the accusations against O’Reilly. No information was immediately available on how Fox will use his time slot.
Companies’ advertising time on “The O’Reilly Factor” has been cut by more than half since the Times report, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Kantar Media. In the month before the Times report, the “O’Reilly Factor” carried an average of 33 national ads totaling more than 14 minutes in an average broadcast, according to Kantar Media data. On Friday, the show included just seven spots totaling 4 minutes and 40 seconds, leaving free airtime Fox News has filled with extra content on O’Reilly’s show.
Earlier this week, Fox News Channel’s parent company said it is investigating O’Reilly after a Los Angeles radio personality, Wendy Walsh, lodged a sexual harassment complaint against him. Walsh, a former guest on O’Reilly’s show, said she dined with the host at a Los Angeles hotel four years ago and saw the meeting as a virtual job interview. Then O’Reilly invited her to his suite, she recounted to The Washington Post.
Other women who made allegations against O’Reilly either worked for him or appeared on his show and have complained about behavior such as verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if O’Reilly was masturbating, the New York Times reported. O’Reilly has said that he settled the lawsuit to “spare his children the pain of messy public ordeals” and that he was targeted because he is famous.
While the news cycle from the last week and a half has tarnished his image, the immensely popular host has received a bump in ratings. More than 3.71 million people watched the “The O’Reilly Factor” last week, a 12 percent jump from the viewership O’Reilly drew the week before, and up 28 percent from the same week in 2016, the Nielsen company said, according to the Associated Press.
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