Following revelations of multiple sexual-harassment charges against host Bill O’Reilly, Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” is shedding advertisers. By Tuesday evening, major advertisers including Mercedes-Benz USA, Hyundai, BMW North America, Allstate, and T. Rowe Price had pulled their ads from the show.
The exodus of advertisers from cable’s most watched news program was a stunning response to a New York Times report that five women had received payments totaling around $13 million to settle allegations of harassment by O’Reilly. However, it remained unknown whether O’Reilly had been disciplined by the network. Some of the advertisers reallocated inventory to other Fox News programming, while others were non-committal about whether they would keep the ads with the channel.
O’Reilly is not the the first TV newsperson to be embroiled in scandal — but he is the most prominent since NBC’s Brian Williams. The former “NBC Nightly News” anchor was initially suspended from his role behind the desk at the Peacock’s flagship newscast in 2015, after it was revealed that he had fabricated a story about being aboard a U.S. military helicopter hit by an RPG while covering the Iraq War in 2003. Williams was later removed from “Nightly News” and reassigned to MSNBC, where he currently hosts “The 11th Hour.”
In 2013, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan apologized for a report on the terrorist attack against the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. That report had relied heavily on a false eyewitness account. Logan was suspended from the long-running newsmagazine, but later returned to her role as a correspondent.
Dan Rather resigned from his post as anchor of “The CBS Evening News” in 2005, just months after the network retracted his “60 Minutes Wednesday” story questioning President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. Documents that Rather had cited in the report were themselves called into question after the report aired. In an on-air apology, Rather said, “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired.”
Former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez was fired from the cable channel in 2010 one day after a radio interview in which he made anti-Semitic remarks. Sanchez, whose show had ended its run in the 8 p.m. timeslot that same day, told a Sirius XM host that he had been discriminated against because of his Cuban heritage. A frequent target of former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, Sanchez groused “everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart.” He went on to question whether “they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority?” Sanchez later apologized, telling “Good Morning America” that “I said some things I shouldn’t have said. They were wrong. Not only were they wrong, they were offensive.” He is currently a contributor to Fox News Latino.
In 1993, “Dateline NBC” anchors Jane Pauley and Stone Phillips apologized on air for a segment that aired the year prior in which the show staged an explosive crash of a General Motors pickup truck. “We deeply regret we included the inappropriate demonstration in our ‘Dateline’ report,” Pauley and Phillips said in a statement read on air. The companies also settled a defamation lawsuit filed by GM.
In a statement Saturday, Fox News parent 21st Century Fox said of O’Reilly, “21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously. Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly,” the company said. “While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.”