Bill O’Reilly’s future at Fox News will be decided Thursday during a 21st Century Fox board meeting in New York — and industry insiders widely agree that the Fox News hotshot will get the heave-ho!
The National ENQUIRER has learned that O’Reilly’s representatives and Fox executives are hammering out details of the exit, in which the host of the network’s long-running No. 1 program will leave the channel under a cloud of disgrace.
Sexual harassment charges continue to pile up against O’Reilly, who remains on vacation in Italy while the law firm Paul, Weiss investigates the allegations for Fox. The same firm’s investigation into sexual-harassment allegations against former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes led to his resignation from the company in July 2016, reportedly with a $40-million with a golden parachute.
While founding chairman Ailes reigned behind the scenes as the mastermind of Fox News’ rise to the top of the cable news business — generating more than $2-billion in revenue for 21st Century Fox — O’Reilly remained the channel’s most visible star with a reported $18-million annual salary to go along with his lucrative publishing deals and speaking fees.
As was the story with Ailes, O’Reilly’s trump card in the showdown has been Rupert Murdoch, the 86-year-old media mogul who built Fox and remains fiercely loyal to the men who brought billions of dollars into his empire. Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox alongside their father, are now ” leaning toward announcing that O’Reilly will not return to the air,” according to Ailes’ biographer Gabriel Sherman, who covers Fox for New York Magazine.
Insiders agree that an ongoing advertiser boycott of O’Reilly’s show has been the key factor swaying the Murdochs to cut the host loose. As many as 60 sponsors pulled ads from “The O’Reilly Factor” since news broke in early April that Fox had paid out as much as $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly.
Fox feels emboldened, sources say, by the success of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which surprised some observers by improving upon the ratings of ”The Kelly File,” the Megyn Kelly-hosted hit that ended in January when she abandoned Fox for NBC. As previously reported in The ENQUIRER, Megyn reportedly found the atmosphere so toxic that she passed on a $20-million annual salary dangled before her.
While Fox looks to fill his slot, O’Reilly appears likely to face a series of legal challenges, fending off what his lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, described to a New York Times reporter as “a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.”