The list of high-profile companies pulling their ads from Fox News’s primetime show “The O’Reilly Factor” grew Tuesday as advertisers sought to distance themselves from fresh allegations that show host Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed women — and that Fox News quietly paid out millions to alleged victims.
As of Tuesday evening, at least 15 companies, including Allstate, BMW, T. Rowe Price, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, had pulled their ad campaigns from “The O’Reilly Factor,” citing their concern about the recent allegations, CNN reported.
A report published in The New York Times on Saturday detailed allegations from five women that O’Reilly, one of Fox News’s most high-profile hosts, harassed them, including making unwanted sexual advances. (Two of the settlements and allegations had been previously reported.) The Times reports that $13 million was paid to the women so that they would not pursue charges or talk about the allegations.
O’Reilly has denied the charges, saying he was targeted unfairly due to his high profile. The cable channel has stood by its host, whose program is one of the network’s major revenue drivers and brings in millions of nightly viewers.
The companies that have pulled their advertising do not make up the bulk of the advertisers on “The O’Reilly Factor,” and other companies have said they would not pull advertisements. But the growing list of companies choosing to distance themselves from the primetime host could cause further problems for Fox News, which is also facing several legal headaches following the forced resignation of its former chairman, Roger Ailes, last summer after an unexpected and high-profile sexual harassment suit filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson.
“We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about the O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News executive vice president of advertising sales Paul Rittenberg said in a company statement. “At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
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Following Carlson’s lawsuit, Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox launched an internal investigation into the behavior of Ailes, during which several women, including former Fox News star Megyn Kelly, told investigators that they had also been harassed. The longtime Fox News CEO resigned, and it seemed Fox News had put the scandal behind it. But a United States attorney’s office in Manhattan launched an investigation into whether the broadcaster misled its investors about the sexual harassment settlements. (Former Fox News CFO Mark Kranz has, according to The Financial Times, been offered immunity to cooperate with government prosecutors.)
And on Monday, Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a gender discrimination lawsuit that alleged she, too, had been sexually harassed by the former Fox News head and that network executives, including current Fox News co-president Bill Shine, retaliated against her after she declined to defend Ailes publicly in the wake of the Carlson suit. Roginsky on Tuesday said she had requested that the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the New York City Corporation Counsel investigate treatment of women at the company.
The channel is also facing a separate racial discrimination and harassment suit filed this week that alleges discriminatory behavior “reminiscent of the Jim Crow era,” along with derogatory comments about an employee with breast cancer, made by Fox News’s former payroll coordinator.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Fox News. It has also been updated to reflect additional advertisers who have pulled their advertisements from “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Advertisers abandon Fox News’ ‘O’Reilly Factor’ amid sexual harassment allegations – Politico