Fox News Channel owner Rupert Murdoch and his family are considering pulling The O’Reilly Factor off air amid accusations of sexual harassment against prime time host Bill O’Reilly, according to a report from Gabriel Sherman in New York magazine.
The pressure on Fox to let Bill O’Reilly go has risen in recent weeks over a string of accusations of sexual harassment, with the longtime host currently on a vacation scheduled to end April 24th.
Earlier this month, The New York Times revealed that $13 million has been paid out from either Fox News or O’Reilly to five women to settle their sexual harassment claims against the host in lieu of litigation, despite O’Reilly’s denial of the merits of their claims.
Fox initially backed O’Reilly over the settlement, arguing that he had “resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility.”
However, Sherman’s sources claim that Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, have argued that O’Reilly should be let go, but their father Rupert Murdoch opposes the idea.
The report also speculated that the decision could affect the Murdoch family’s pending $14 billion deal to re-buy European-based TV provider Sky, with a decision to sack O’Reilly likely to increase Murdoch’s favorability with media regulators Ofcom.
O’Reilly’s primetime show, The O’Reilly Factor, is at its most popular since its conception in 1996, averaging 3.7 million viewers in its final week before details of the settlement emerged, a 28 percent increase from the previous year, according to Nielsen Research.
Over 90 companies dropped advertising on The O’Reilly Factor over the allegations, while a small group of feminist protesters gathered outside the Fox News headquarters in New York calling on the network to fire O’Reilly.
Last year, Fox News’ longtime chairman Roger Ailes resigned over claims of sexual harassment against several female staff members, including former host Gretchen Carlson and anchor Megyn Kelly.
President Donald Trump supported O’Reilly over the claims, describing him as a “good person” who “hasn’t done anything wrong.”