21st Century Fox’s board of directors will meet to discuss the future of longtime Fox News host Bill O’Reilly following revelations that O’Reilly and the network spent millions to settle sexual harassment complaints against the host.
According to a report from CNN’s Brian Stelter, “The network's parent company, 21st Century Fox (FOX), will hold a board meeting on Thursday” to discuss O'Reilly's future at the organization.” According to Stelter, one source said, “representatives for Fox and O'Reilly have begun talking about an exit.”
A well-placed source said Tuesday afternoon that representatives for Fox and O'Reilly have begun talking about an exit. But this prompted a denial from sources in O'Reilly's camp.
Even one person close to O'Reilly, however, said he will probably not be back on “The O'Reilly Factor.”
The original well-placed source said an announcement about O'Reilly's fate was likely by the end of the week.
The fact that none of these sources were willing to go on the record speaks to the delicate maneuvering underway.
The network's parent company, 21st Century Fox (FOX), will hold a board meeting on Thursday, a spokeswoman told CNNMoney. One of the sources said O'Reilly will be a primary topic.
The report comes after The New York Times revealed that O’Reilly and the network paid nearly $13 million to quietly settle lawsuits against the host for allegations of sexual harassment. As more women came forward with reports of sexual harassment and retaliation by O’Reilly dozens of companies pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s timeslot.
21st Century Fox’s board of directors includes Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch, James Murdoch, Jeffrey Ubben, Tidjane Thiam, Robert Silberman, Jacques Nasser, Viet Dinh, David DeVoe, James Breyer, Delphine Arnault, Sir Roderick Eddington, Chase Carey. See below:
UPDATE: According to The Wall Street Journal (which shares a parent company with 21st Century Fox), “Fox News is preparing to cut ties with its biggest star, Bill O’Reilly.” Despite O’Reilly’s viewership, Fox news will have to decide the “pros and cons of keeping Mr. O’Reilly on the air” as advertisers continue to leave his show. From The Wall Street Journal:
A final decision on Mr. O’Reilly’s fate could come as early as the next several days, the people said. Mr. O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” has been ensnared in a sexual-harassment scandal related to previously undisclosed settlements he and Fox News paid to women who worked on or appeared on his program.
Initially, Fox News and parent company 21st Century Fox stood by their highly-rated host. Mr. O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing, saying he paid settlements to “put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”
However, as advertisers fled his show, debate inside company ensued over the pros and cons of keeping Mr. O’Reilly on the air. His show draws about 4 million viewers a night, and the controversy didn’t dent his ratings.
This piece has been updated with additional information.