PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The biggest name in cable news Bill O’Reilly has been forced out at Fox after growing accusations of sexual harassment.
Fox put out a statement saying that after a careful review of the allegations, both he and the company have agreed that he will not return.
“What’s unusual about it, to be quite frank, is that it took them as long as it did,” said Sam Cordes, one of Pittsburgh’s most prominent employment attorneys.
Cordes has represented victims of sexual harassment, as well as those accused.
“Employers become responsible for this kind of stuff when they know someone has the propensity to do it, and they don’t take any action,” Cordes said.
But O’Reilly continues to deny any wrongdoing, releasing a statement that reads in part: “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.”
A few weeks ago, The New York Times reported Fox had paid five women who had made allegations a total of $13 million.
Then, more than 50 major advertisers pulled out of “The O’Reilly Factor,” and protestors marched outside Fox headquarters chanting for his firing.
Last year, Fox News Channel promised a zero-tolerance policy after chairman Roger Ailes resigned over similar allegations.
“I think we’re seeing someone being held accountable for his actions,” said Jessie Ramey, from Chatham University’s Women’s Institute.
She says it’s frustrating O’Reilly wasn’t out sooner.
“I’ve heard people talking about Bill O’Reilly being forced out. I think really what we’re seeing today is that he’s been forcing himself on others,” Ramey said.
Again, O’Reilly denies the accusations, claiming he’s become a target.
However, Cordes says: “Harassers say that all the time, in my experience, and it’s true very, very rarely.”
“How many ever people do not come out of the woodwork just on the off chance that, well, Fox paid somebody 10 years ago. Well, they’re going to do it to me. That doesn’t happen,” said Cordes.
New York Magazine says O’Reilly’s ratings actually went up since the sexual harassment allegations surfaced.
He hasn’t been on the air since Tuesday of last week, when he announced he was taking a preplanned vacation. Ratings, since then, have dropped.
Dr. Robert Thompson, a TV and pop culture expert at Syracuse University, tells the “KDKA Morning News” that Fox News didn’t have any other option but to fire O’Reilly.
“I think [Fox News] had no choice. When Gretchen Carlson left, when Megyn Kelly left, when Greta Van Susteren left, the whole Roger Ailes thing, every single one of these stories really depicted Fox as a pretty awful place in terms of how it treats women,” says Thompson.
Thompson adds with everything that has happened with Fox News, he is surprised it took Rupert Murdock as long as it did to remove O’Reilly.