Bill O’Reilly may have gotten his walking papers from Fox News but he’s not going anywhere. The embattled news host just announced a project that will define the next phase of his career. This Monday, just days after parting with Fox, O’Reilly announced he will be doing his own broadcast. “The No Spin Zone,” will air as a podcast on his website at www.billoreilly.com. The live broadcast will be at 7 PM Eastern and will be free through Sunday. This change in career was initiated after his recent ousting from Fox News over a sexual harassment scandal which he calls unfounded and a smear campaign.
“It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” O’Reilly wrote in a statement on the issue. “But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. 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.”
O’Reilly was at the top of the cable news ratings, having had the number one spot in cable news for several years running. But then a sexual harassment scandal overshadowed his career and he was released from the network Wednesday. He was given a $25 million payout upon his departure. Tucker Carlson will take over his time slot on Fox. Carlson’s first guest in his new spot Monday night is to be Caitlyn Jenner, who is expected to have strong words for Trump regarding his stance on LGBTQ issues.
The harassment scandal came on the heels of another lawsuit involving sexual misconduct on behalf of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. Several women, former Fox employees, came forward complaining about O’Reilly. The host stayed silent on the issue and had settled out of court with a few of them over the years. But last week a slew of advertisers started pulling out of The Factor’s prime spot, demanding O’Reilly be dismissed. Fox News took some time to respond, only issuing a memo that providing a safe workplace was of the utmost importance.
Finally, when they had to respond, Fox largely stood behind O’Reilly, questioning why such women never used the employee resources set up for the purpose of filing complaints. They said O’Reilly had been reprimanded and life at Fox News would continue. The deserting advertisers were re-worked into other spots on the channel. O’Reilly called the whole thing a “celebrity witch hunt,” and his nearly 4 million viewers stayed with him.
The women involved said they didn’t feel comfortable reporting the incidents before and that making enemies with the powerful news commentator and his allies would be akin to career suicide. While none of the claims detailed outright sexual behavior, the actions the women described were certainly not appropriate for work.
Andrea Mackris, a former producer, said he regularly made suggestive comments to her on the set and would call her after hours to discuss sexual fantasies; even telling her to buy a vibrator on one occasion. Wendy Walsh said she was offered a guest spot on the show. At a pre-show dinner meeting, he invited her up to his room. She politely declined and says that over the course of her employment, she was bullied and marginalized until he found a reason to fire her just four months later. Juliet Huddy was another host who sued him this year making similar claims.
One of the women that sued Roger Ailes, Andrea Tantoros, summed up the entire issue by saying that the atmosphere at Fox is prime for that sort of behavior.
“Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny,” she said in court documents.
On Wednesday, April 19, the network caved to the pressure and dismissed him. Sean Hannity is now facing a similar accusation that he vehemently denies. The woman involved, Debbie Schlussel, came out Monday with a statement saying she never said she was harassed. She was involved in a potentially sexual situation with the network star but she wouldn’t have called it harassment.
“Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law, and I would never accuse him of that,” Schussel, who is also an attorney, said in a statement. At least someone at Fox News has some ethics. O’Reilly has not disclosed the topics of Monday’s podcast or if he will be following the same format at his top-rated “The O’Reilly Factor,” on Fox.
But, interested parties can tune in and find out. He will also be embarking on a national speaking tour this summer and fall.