Bill O’Reilly officially got the Fox News boot in the butt today, which launched a grand old party for those who hoped the network would take a bold stand against sexual harassment. Of course, stories about O’Reilly’s alleged behavior — involving unwanted advances, loofah-talk, and “hot chocolate” — ran rampant for years. What began the host’s undoing was a report about how he and Fox paid a $ 13 million cumulative total to five accusers.
On Fox News tonight, O’Reilly’s old show had already stripped his identity to label the program as The Factor, and Tucker Carlson will soon assume the 8pm EST time slot beginning on Monday. On a plane en route from Italy (where he was on vacation) back to the U.S., O’Reilly issued a statement about his dismissal. Naturally, he expresses no anger toward Fox and doesn’t harbor any remorse. In fact, O’Reilly characterizes the allegations against him as “unfounded claims,” and he acts like accusations like these are simply a “reality” that famous people must endure:
“Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television. It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”
Meanwhile, Vanity Fair reports word from a source within Fox News, who says an ominous cloud is hanging overhead:
The most unsettling feeling among some at Fox News, however, is that Wednesday’s events are only the beginning. “There’s more to come,” one Fox News insider told me, suggesting that there are more women with stories of harassment who have not come forward publicly. This estimation was affirmed by two people who heard such stories directly. Others are equally concerned about the attention that is being drawn to 21st Century Fox’s handling of the allegations by women inside the company.
The publication also says that Rupert Murdoch wants to ease tensions, so he sent out an internal memo that emphasizes how Fox only want to nurture “trust and respect” in the workplace. Yet the O’Reilly problem (just like the one involving Roger Ailes) didn’t develop overnight, and folks won’t forget this mess so soon either.