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Advertisers Back out of Bill O’Reilly’s Show after Sexual Harassment Claims Surface
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Summary: Over 20 advertisers have distanced themselves from Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.

Fox News superstar, Bill O’Reilly, seemed invincible. Despite numerous claims of sexual harassment lodged against the crotchety conservative, the network chose to keep him on and pay off the accusers. But when word of the network’s settlements went public this month, high-profile advertisers pulled themselves from his program. So far, 23 companies have withdrawn their sponsorship of the show.

  
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According to The New York Times, Fox News paid five women a total of $13 million to settle sexual harassment lawsuits filed against the 67-year-old talking head. While the amount seems high, the network was most likely protecting their most valuable asset. From 2014 to 2016, O’Reilly brought in $446 million in revenue, according to Newsweek, making his annual salary of $18 million a worthy investment.

However, O’Reilly’s value may have rested on his actions staying closeted. After The New York Times released the information about O’Reilly’s alleged misconduct with female employees, Mercedes-Benz announced that they would no longer advertise on the program. Other car companies followed suit such as BMW, Lexus, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi.

On Tuesday, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Sanofi Consumer Care, Allstate, Esurance, T. Rowe Price, and Credit Karma fled The O’Reilly Factor, according to NBC News. They were joined by H&R Block, Orkin, Untuckit, Ancestry.com, Constant Contact, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition,  The Society for Human Resource Management, Coldwell Banker; Amica mutual insurance company, Touchnote, WeatherTech and TrueCar.

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Wayfair told NBC News that it was not pulling advertisements but did not have plans to buy more. Voya financial services and The Wonderful Company also said they did not plan to buy new commercials.

Fox News said that they were working with ad partners to “address their current concerns about The O’Reilly Factor” and that the companies who pulled their ads would have their commercials moved to other Fox News programs.



O’Reilly denied the sexual harassment claims, and he stated that being in a position of power and visibility made him “vulnerable” to lawsuits.

“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” O’Reilly said.

O’Reilly did not deny Fox News or himself paying the five women, but he said that it was easier to settle than to put his family through an ordeal.

The allegations of O’Reilly’s impropriety come at a strange time for Fox News and the country in general. Last year, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson sued the network because she claimed former CEO Roger Ailes harassed her, and her lawsuit brought a slew of similar suits from other female employees. Ailes was eventually terminated, and Fox News said that it did not tolerate harassment.

So far, the treatment of Ailes versus O’Reilly seems unbalanced, but it is unclear if perhaps O’Reilly’s settlements going public may end up getting him fired over the actual harassment itself.

Andrew Tyndall wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that losing advertisers will probably not get O’Reilly canned because he is too profitable for the network.

“The fiscal importance to [Fox News Corporation] of The O’Reilly Factor derives from its audience size rather than its advertising revenues, even after these defections,” Tyndall said. “In the cable television universe, O’Reilly’s audience is so big that it renders the carriage of FNC indispensable, thereby allowing the channel to charge cable operators top dollar, which is the true source of its fabulous profitability.”

Photo courtesy of Gawker

Do you think O’Reilly should be fired? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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