Nation’s Highest-Rated Cable News Host Fired

If he’s the nation’s highest-rated cable news host, then why would Fox News terminate his employment? Sexual harassment lawsuits are nothing new to Bill O’Reilly. For the last fifteen years, Fox News and host of The O’Reilly Factor have settled five sexual harassment lawsuits totaling tens of millions of dollars.

High ratings means more money, unless companies start pulling their ads off the network. Ratings mean nothing without advertisers.

After the New York Times had reported this month that there had been five settled lawsuits involving Bill O’Reilly, companies started pulling ads. Within a week, The O’Reilly Factor had lost half their advertisers, nearly 60.

If it weren’t for the publicized sexual harassment settlements, companies probably wouldn’t have pulled their ads. Now that they have, Fox News has had to make a difficult decision. Here’s New York magazine:

The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.

Wednesday morning, according to sources, executives are holding emergency meetings to discuss how they can sever the relationship with the country’s highest-rated cable-news host without causing collateral damage to the network. The board of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.

Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.

So, now the question is, who is going to replace him?

Names that have been discussed include Eric Bolling, Dana Perino, and Tucker Carlson, who would move from his successful 9 p.m. slot and create a need for a new host at that time. One source said Sean Hannity is happy at 10 p.m. and would not want to move.

Of those, I hope they go with Tucker Carlson.

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