April 19 (UPI) — Fox News Channel announced Wednesday that Bill O’Reilly, who has worked for the cable network since its inception in 1996, won’t return to its top-rated show.
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” the company said in a one-sentence statement.
Tucker Carlson will fill O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. Eastern time slot, moving up one hour, starting Monday. Fox’s panel show, The Five, will switch to 8 p.m. from its 5 p.m. position. Five member Eric Bolling will debut at 5 p.m. The other prime-time hosts remain — Martha MacCallum at 7 p.m. and Sean Hannity at 10 p.m.
O’Reilly joined the network in October 1996 as host of the The O’Reilly Report, which was renamed The O’Reilly Factor a few months later.
Since April 11, the host has been on a vacation in Italy, where he shook Pope Francis‘ hand on Wednesday.
Eight days earlier, The New York Times disclosed O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox had settled sexual harassment complaints against him for $13 million.
O’Reilly, who made $18 million per year at Fox, denied the merits of the claims, according to 21st Century Fox. O’Reilly, 67, ealrier said the settlements “put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”
“It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” O’Reilly said in a statement. “But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”
O’Reilly, who learned of his employer’s decision while awaiting a flight back to the United States, did not take participate in the discussions with the Murdoch family, which controls Fox and 21st Century Fox.
Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James wrote a letter to employees saying the decision “follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel.”
“By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news,” said the letter, which was obtained by CNN. In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable. Fox News has demonstrated again and again the strength of its talent bench. We have full confidence that the network will continue to be a powerhouse in cable news.
“Lastly, and most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”
Since The New York Times report, major advertisers abandoned O’Reilly’s nightly program.
His viewership went up after the Times story broke — to 3.77 million last week from 3.31 million the previous week, according to data from the Nielsen company.
Last week, radio host and psychotherapist Wendy Walsh said she was denied a promised opportunity to work as a Fox News contributor after she rejected O’Reilly’s sexual advances.
O’Reilly previously worked as a national news correspondent for ABC and CBS.
He was host of syndicated Inside Edition from 1989 to 1995 and left to pursue a master’s degree at Harvard University.
In September, Greta Van Susteren, anchor of Fox News’ On the Record since 2002, abruptly left the cable news channel. She had originally held the 7 p.m. slot.