O'Reilly out at Fox News Channel, still denies allegations – New York Daily News

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel’s parent company fired Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday following an investigation into harassment allegations, bringing a stunning end to cable news’ most popular program and one that came to define the bravado of his network over 20 years.

O’Reilly lost his job on the same day he was photographed in Rome shaking the hand of Pope Francis.

Pope Francis shakes hands with TV host Bill O’Reilly, second from right, during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O’Reilly is on a two-week vacation that on Wednesday took him to Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

(The Associated Press)

The downfall of Fox’s most popular — and most lucrative — personality began with an April 2 report in The New York Times that five women had been paid a total of $13 million to keep quiet about disturbing encounters with O’Reilly, who continued to deny any wrongdoing in a statement hours after he was fired. Dozens of his show’s advertisers fled within days, even though O’Reilly’s viewership increased.

A pedestrian walks past the News Corp. headquarters building in New York displaying posters featuring Fox News Channel personalities including Bill O’Reilly, right, on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that “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. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

O’Reilly’s exit came nine months after his former boss, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, was ousted following allegations of sexual harassment.

A man takes a photo of a anti-Bill O’Reilly flier in front of a poster featuring O’Reilly at the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

Following the Times story, 21st Century Fox said it had asked the same law firm that investigated Ailes to look into O’Reilly’s behavior. 21st Century Fox leaders Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James said in a memo to Fox staff that their decision to ax O’Reilly came following an “extensive review” into the charges.

Activist Judah Friedlander holds his “Activist Barbie” with a photo of Bill O’Reilly, right, next to politician Bull Connor, who strongly opposed activities of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, in front of the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

“I understand how difficult this has been for many of you,” Rupert Murdoch said in a memo to Fox staff.

Activist Judah Friedlander holds his “Activist Barbie” with a photo of Bill O’Reilly, right, next to politician Bull Connor, who strongly opposed activities of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, in front of the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

O’Reilly, denied a chance to say goodbye to his Fox viewers, did so via a statement.

FILE – This Oct. 13, 2012 file photo shows Fox News commentator and author Bill O’Reilly at the Comedy Central “Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs” at the Beacon Theatre in New York. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that “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. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invsion/AP, File)

(The Associated Press)

“It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” he said. “But that is the unfortunate reality that 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.”

Posters featuring Bill O’Reilly are displayed at the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

O’Reilly’s dismissal doesn’t signal any change of direction for the network: Fox said conservative pundit Tucker Carlson would move into O’Reilly’s time slot — the second time in three months he’s replaced an exiting prime-time personality. Carlson, a veteran who has hosted shows on CNN, MSNBC and PBS, had taken over for Megyn Kelly in January when she announced she was moving to NBC News. “The Five,” a talk show with five rotating hosts that regularly airs at 5 p.m. ET, will move into the 9 p.m. time slot. Eric Bolling will host a new show that airs at 5 p.m. starting next month, the company said.

Activist with the Color of Change protest Bill O’Reilly outside the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

O’Reilly, 67, had ruled the “no spin zone” on television with a quick smile and an even quicker temper. He pushed a populist, conservative-leaning point of view born from growing up on Long Island, and was quick to shout down those who disagreed with him. Fans loved his willingness to talk back to power or point out hypocrisy among liberal politicians or media members.

People walk past posters featuring Bill O’Reilly as they enter the News Corp. headquarters in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that “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. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

O’Reilly and President Donald Trump are both “crowd-pleasing showmen who know how to signal to loyalists in their audience that they are not taking themselves quite as seriously as their detractors are,” said news consultant Andrew Tyndall. “Half of the fun that they have with their audiences comes from watching the outrage that they manage to provoke.”

A security guard looks out of the the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. Bill O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that “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. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

“What Rush Limbaugh was to talk radio, Bill O’Reilly has been to conservative television,” said Mark Feldstein, communication professor at the University of Maryland. “You can’t underestimate the influence and the profits that he brought into Fox News for all these years and that’s why they hesitated so long in doing the right thing.”

FILE – In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo, host Bill O’Reilly of “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel, poses for photos in the set in New York. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that “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. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(The Associated Press)

His show generated $178 million in advertising revenue in 2015, according to Kantar Media. Before the advertising boycott, there was the prospect of even more: his audience was larger in the first three months of 2017 than it has ever been. With a profit center gone, 21st Century Fox stock fell almost 1 percent Wednesday in heavy trading.

FILE – In this April 6, 2016 file photo, Bill O’Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter’s “35 Most Powerful People in Media” celebration in New York. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that O’Reilly will not return to Fox News. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

(The Associated Press)

O’Reilly’s pugnacious personality wasn’t just an onscreen affectation, with one of the settlements going to a woman who complained about being shouted at in the newsroom. One harassment case, from a former producer who said O’Reilly called her and described sexual fantasies and appeared to be masturbating, dated back more than a decade and was widely reported then. While O’Reilly survived then, the accumulation of cases outlined in the Times damaged him much more extensively.

FILE – In this combination photo, Fox News Channel personality Bill O’Reilly appears at The Hollywood Reporter’s “35 Most Powerful People in Media” celebration on April 6, 2016, in New York, left, and Pope Francis leaves after celebrating Mass in Piazza Martiri Square, in Carpi, northern Italy, on April 2, 2017. O’Reilly has had a brief handshake with Pope Francis as sexual harassment allegations dog him at home in the U.S. He is on a two-week vacation that on Wednesday took him to Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square. His trip came as Fox News Channel’s parent company weighs accusations that a woman’s career was slowed when she spurned O’Reilly’s advances. Dozens of his show’s advertisers have fled following reports of harassment settlements paid to other women. O’Reilly has denied wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa, left, Marco Vasini, Files)

(The Associated Press)

For Fox executives, it wasn’t clear when it would end: a campaign to target advertisers was continuing, a group of women demonstrated in front of Fox’s headquarters Tuesday and another woman, a former clerical worker at Fox, called a harassment hotline and accusing the host of boorish behavior.

A man, left, who was paid to hand out flyers by the group Color of Change opposing Bill O’Reilly, talks to a pedestrian outside the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O’Reilly’s bosses Wednesday to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O’Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed O’Reilly was in the VIP section for the pope’s Wednesday appearance. Francis always swings by the VIP seats at the end of his audience for a quick round of handshakes. A photographer from the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano snapped a photo of Francis reaching out to shake his hand.

Posters of Fox News Channel personalities are displayed at the News Corp. headquarters in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O’Reilly’s bosses to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said Wednesday that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O’Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

___

A woman walks past the News Corp. headquarters building displaying posters featuring Fox News Channel personalities including Bill O’Reilly, top center, in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O’Reilly’s bosses Wednesday, April 19, 2017, to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O’Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(The Associated Press)

AP writers Nicole Winfield in Rome; Hillel Italie and Marley Jay in New York; and Lynn Elber in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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