Fox’s Bill O’Reilly is taking a vacation at a rather convenient time — just as advertisers are fleeing his show, The O’Reilly Factor, in droves after The New York Times revealed that Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox have shelled out $13 million stemming from five sexual harassment lawsuits.
But according to O’Reilly, this family vacation has been in the works for several months.
“Often around this time of year, I grab some vacation time because it’s spring and Easter time,” O’Reilly told his audience. “Last fall, I booked a trip that should be terrific.”
And it’s especially convenient when you consider that literally dozens of advertisers have dropped him on his head after the scandal broke two weeks ago. Analysis conducted by the ad-tracking firm iSpot.tv shows that The O’Reilly Factor has lost more than half it’s advertisers since The New York Times broke the story.
“There’s sort of a contempt for O’Reilly from some of his colleagues, particularly female colleagues,” NPR’s David Folkenflik told Morning Edition last week. “And there’s a cynicism about the degree of sincerity with which the Murdoch family and the top executives are operating.”
The Independent reports that research compiled by Kantar Media shows that on April 7, The O’Reilly Factor ran only four minutes and 40 seconds of paid advertising, which is down 69 percent from the 14 minutes and 32 seconds in paid advertising the show averaged between March 6 and 31.
So it looks like the rats are fleeing the magic ship.
In 2015, The O’Reilly Factor was a major source of revenue for Fox News, generating more than $178 million for its’ coffers.
The report by The New York Times claims the settlements go all the way back to 2002 after a female producer left the company after she was allegedly verbally abused.
O’Reilly admits completing the pay-outs, but claims he’s being targeted because he’s famous and wealthy. He asserts he only did the pay-outs to protect his family. And he notes that no women have filed complaints against him via the company’s human resources department. Last year, the company contended with allegations against former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who was given a massive pay-out, allegedly based on the allegations. Ailes has steadfastly denied these allegations.
But former guest commentator Wendy Walsh claims she was fired from her role on the show after refusing to accompany him to his hotel suite after a meeting.
O’Reilly will return to his program on April 24, according to Fox News and his spokesperson Mark Fabiani, per CNN. But even so, there’s plenty of speculation inside Fox News and in the media — spurred by a report from New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman — that he may, in fact, leave Fox News. A spokesman for the network denies this however.
Fabiani also disputes this speculation.
“Other than the vacation guest hosts, The Factor broadcast will remain unchanged until Mr. O’Reilly’s return post-vacation,” he said.
However, it does appear that there’s some dissension in the ranks. Ultimately, O’Reilly’s fate is up to Rupert Murdoch and his sons, who run 21st Century Fox. It’s reported that the senior Murdoch, the Executive Chairman, wants to keep O’Reilly on the air. But his son James is against the idea. The company did not reply to CNN’s request for comment.
And the scandal comes at a difficult time for the Murdoch family, which renewed O’Reilly’s contract, spending millions of dollars in the process, knowing all along about the settlements to his accusers.
Fox has also hired the law firm Paul, Weiss to investigate O’Reilly’s treatment of Walsh, who alleges he sexually harassed her, CNN reports.
Whatever happens, O’Reilly maintains he’ll be returning on April 24.
“We all need R&R,” he told his viewers Tuesday. “Put it to good use. Plan it. Don’t run into horror on the road. All of us deserve a break, so make sure you take yours.”
And he added:
“I’ll have a full report when I return.”
However, his vacation may be much longer than he expects.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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