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Bill O’Reilly will be paid as much as $25 million in an exit deal with Fox News, sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter.
That is equivalent to one year of a rich new four-year deal that O’Reilly finalized earlier this year. The network and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, completed the deal with knowledge that a New York Times story would reveal settlements with women who accused The O’Reilly Factor host of harassment after the ouster last summer of founding CEO Roger Ailes amid his own sexual harassment scandal.
Ailes left last July with a $40 million payout, the remainder owed on his contract.
O’Reilly has vehemently denied the allegations and said that he settled the claims to spare his children the inevitable public mudslinging. O’Reilly was a tabloid staple for two weeks back in 2004 when an associate producer at The O’Reilly Factor filed a sexual harassment claim against him. The claim was settled for $9 million.
But inside Fox News, the timing of the most recent payouts caused “outrage” and “disappointment,” said staffers, especially among female employees who felt the company’s financial decisions were not aligning with their public statements about “respect and dignity” in the workplace. Multiple Fox News staffers said that after Ailes was ousted, women felt more comfortable bringing concerns to management.
In a statement released Wednesday, O’Reilly noted: “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.”
In announcing O’Reilly’s departure on The O’Reilly Factor on Wednesday, substitute anchor Dana Perino characterized him as the “undisputed king of cable news.”
Indeed, he was the linchpin in the network’s highly lucrative primetime lineup, where his show was the No. 1 cable news program for 16 years and this year was averaging close to 4 million viewers each night.
“He is an incredibly talented broadcaster who raised the bar for interviewers everywhere,” said Perino. “It is the end of an era here at Fox News Channel.”
April 20, 12:00 p.m.: Story and headline updated to note that the payment to O’Reilly is a maximum of $25 million over one year.
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