After it was publicly announced that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was getting let go Wednesday, O’Reilly has issued a statement to the press.
The now-former host of the highest-rated cable news show has seen a dramatic loss in advertising amid harassment allegations, sexual harassment accusations, and costly settlements, but his viewership has continued to grow.
According to CNN senior reporter Dylan Byers, O’Reilly’s statement said, “Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television.”
But he added, “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”
O’Reilly concluded, “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.”
The 67-year-old has been on vacation in Italy. His lawyer earlier called the effort to oust O’Reilly a “smear campaign.”
He added that his client “has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.”
Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch also replied to the firing Wednesday, according to The Hill, saying that "By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. 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.”
O’Reilly has hosted “The O’Reilly Factor” since 1996. His 8 p.m. Eastern time slot is being filled by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
According to CNN, Carlson’s 9 p.m. slot will be taken by “The Five,” with new co-host Jesse Watters of man-on-the-street “Watters World” fame.
Current “The Five” co-host Eric Bolling will move to his own 5 p.m. show on May 1.
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