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Bill O'Reilly out at Fox News Channel after 20 years

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/19/2017 By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
FILE - In this April 6, 2016 file photo, Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter's "35 Most Powerful People in Media" celebration in New York. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this April 6, 2016 file photo, Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter's "35 Most Powerful People in Media" celebration in New York. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel's parent company fired Bill O'Reilly on Wednesday following an investigation into harassment allegations, bringing a stunning end to cable television news' most popular program and one that came to define the bravado of his network over 20 years.

Pope Francis shakes hands with TV host Bill O'Reilly, second from right, during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly is on a two-week vacation that on Wednesday took him to Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP) © The Associated Press Pope Francis shakes hands with TV host Bill O'Reilly, second from right, during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly is on a two-week vacation that on Wednesday took him to Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

O'Reilly lost his job on the same day he was photographed in Rome shaking the hand of Pope Francis.

A pedestrian walks past the News Corp. headquarters building in New York displaying posters featuring Fox News Channel personalities including Bill O'Reilly, right, on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press A pedestrian walks past the News Corp. headquarters building in New York displaying posters featuring Fox News Channel personalities including Bill O'Reilly, right, on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The downfall of Fox's most popular — and most lucrative — personality began with an April 2 report in The New York Times that five women had been paid a total of $13 million to keep quiet about unpleasant encounters with O'Reilly, who has denied any wrongdoing. Dozens of his show's advertisers fled within days, even though O'Reilly's viewership increased.

A man takes a photo of a anti-Bill O'Reilly flier in front of a poster featuring O'Reilly at the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press A man takes a photo of a anti-Bill O'Reilly flier in front of a poster featuring O'Reilly at the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

O'Reilly's exit came nine months after his former boss, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, was ousted following allegations of sexual harassment.

Activist Judah Friedlander holds his "Activist Barbie" with a photo of Bill O'Reilly, right, next to politician Bull Connor, who strongly opposed activities of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, in front of the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press Activist Judah Friedlander holds his "Activist Barbie" with a photo of Bill O'Reilly, right, next to politician Bull Connor, who strongly opposed activities of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, in front of the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Following the Times story, 21st Century Fox said it had asked the same law firm that investigated Ailes to look into O'Reilly's behavior. 21st Century Fox leaders Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James said in a memo to Fox staff that their decision to ax O'Reilly came following an "extensive review" into the charges.

Activist Judah Friedlander holds his "Activist Barbie" with a photo of Bill O'Reilly, right, next to politician Bull Connor, who strongly opposed activities of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, in front of the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press Activist Judah Friedlander holds his "Activist Barbie" with a photo of Bill O'Reilly, right, next to politician Bull Connor, who strongly opposed activities of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, in front of the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

"We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect," the Murdochs said in a memo to Fox News staff members.

FILE - This Oct. 13, 2012 file photo shows Fox News commentator and author Bill O'Reilly at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre in New York. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invsion/AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - This Oct. 13, 2012 file photo shows Fox News commentator and author Bill O'Reilly at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre in New York. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invsion/AP, File)

Fox said Tucker Carlson would move into O'Reilly's time slot — the second time in three months he's replaced an exiting prime-time personality. Carlson, a veteran pundit who has hosted shows on CNN, MSNBC and PBS, had taken over for Megyn Kelly in January when she announced she was moving to NBC News. "The Five," a talk show with five rotating hosts that regularly airs at 5 p.m. ET, will move into the 9 p.m. time slot. Eric Bolling will host a new show that airs at 5 p.m. starting next month, the company said.

Posters featuring Bill O'Reilly are displayed at the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press Posters featuring Bill O'Reilly are displayed at the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel after allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

O'Reilly had ruled the "no spin zone" on television with a quick smile and an even quicker temper. He pushed a populist, conservative-leaning point of view born from growing up on Long Island, and was quick to shout down those who disagreed with him. Fans loved his willingness to talk back to power or point out hypocrisy among liberal politicians or media members.

People walk past posters featuring Bill O'Reilly as they enter the News Corp. headquarters in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press People walk past posters featuring Bill O'Reilly as they enter the News Corp. headquarters in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

His show generated $178 million in advertising revenue in 2015, according to Kantar Media. His audience was larger in the first three months of this year than it has ever been, according to Nielsen.

A security guard looks out of the the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. Bill O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press A security guard looks out of the the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. Bill O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

O'Reilly's pugnacious personality wasn't just an off-screen affectation, with one of the settlements going to a woman who complained about being shouted at in the newsroom. Even though at least one of the harassment cases against him dated back more than a decade and was widely reported then, the accumulation of cases outlined in the Times damaged him much more extensively. For Fox executives, it wasn't clear when it would end: a campaign to target advertisers was continuing, a group of women demonstrated in front of Fox's headquarters Tuesday and another woman, a former clerical worker at Fox, called a harassment hotline and accusing the host of boorish behavior.

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo, host Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor" on the Fox News Channel, poses for photos in the set in New York. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo, host Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor" on the Fox News Channel, poses for photos in the set in New York. O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

"I'm not going away," said Lisa Bloom, attorney for the latest accuser and another woman who alleges her career stalled because she spurned O'Reilly's advances.

FILE - In this April 6, 2016 file photo, Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter's "35 Most Powerful People in Media" celebration in New York. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that O'Reilly will not return to Fox News. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this April 6, 2016 file photo, Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter's "35 Most Powerful People in Media" celebration in New York. 21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that O'Reilly will not return to Fox News. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

O'Reilly's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, charged that his client was being subjected to a "brutal campaign of character assassination" and that there is a smear campaign orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O'Reilly for political and financial reasons.

FILE - In this combination photo, Fox News Channel personality Bill O'Reilly appears at The Hollywood Reporter's "35 Most Powerful People in Media" celebration on April 6, 2016, in New York, left, and Pope Francis leaves after celebrating Mass in Piazza Martiri Square, in Carpi, northern Italy, on April 2, 2017. O'Reilly has had a brief handshake with Pope Francis as sexual harassment allegations dog him at home in the U.S. He is on a two-week vacation that on Wednesday took him to Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square. His trip came as Fox News Channel's parent company weighs accusations that a woman’s career was slowed when she spurned O’Reilly’s advances. Dozens of his show's advertisers have fled following reports of harassment settlements paid to other women. O'Reilly has denied wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa, left, Marco Vasini, Files) © The Associated Press FILE - In this combination photo, Fox News Channel personality Bill O'Reilly appears at The Hollywood Reporter's "35 Most Powerful People in Media" celebration on April 6, 2016, in New York, left, and Pope Francis leaves after celebrating Mass in Piazza Martiri Square, in Carpi, northern Italy, on April 2, 2017. O'Reilly has had a brief handshake with Pope Francis as sexual harassment allegations dog him at home in the U.S. He is on a two-week vacation that on Wednesday took him to Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square. His trip came as Fox News Channel's parent company weighs accusations that a woman’s career was slowed when she spurned O’Reilly’s advances. Dozens of his show's advertisers have fled following reports of harassment settlements paid to other women. O'Reilly has denied wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa, left, Marco Vasini, Files)

Conservative personality Glenn Beck — who once lost a job at Fox News Channel because a similar campaign choked his program of paying advertisers — came to O'Reilly's defense of Wednesday, but it was too late. O'Reilly's fans aren't likely to be happy about his losing his job, particularly on a controversy set in motion by the Times, a publication hated in conservative circles.

A man, left, who was paid to hand out flyers by the group Color of Change opposing Bill O'Reilly, talks to a pedestrian outside the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O'Reilly's bosses Wednesday to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O'Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press A man, left, who was paid to hand out flyers by the group Color of Change opposing Bill O'Reilly, talks to a pedestrian outside the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O'Reilly's bosses Wednesday to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O'Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

"You need to write and call Fox News Channel today and tell them, you can lose your advertisers or you can lose your viewers," Beck said on his radio show hours before the firing. "But you have to put some spine back into the Murdoch family and the Fox News Channel board because you are about to lose Bill O'Reilly."

Posters of Fox News Channel personalities are displayed at the News Corp. headquarters in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O'Reilly's bosses to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said Wednesday that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O'Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press Posters of Fox News Channel personalities are displayed at the News Corp. headquarters in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O'Reilly's bosses to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said Wednesday that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O'Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

O'Reilly had been scheduled to return from his vacation next Monday, and there had been some talk of him addressing his longtime viewers about the exit. But Fox said Wednesday that wouldn't happen.

A woman walks past the News Corp. headquarters building displaying posters featuring Fox News Channel personalities including Bill O'Reilly, top center, in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O'Reilly's bosses Wednesday, April 19, 2017, to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O'Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © The Associated Press A woman walks past the News Corp. headquarters building displaying posters featuring Fox News Channel personalities including Bill O'Reilly, top center, in New York, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. There was no immediate response from Bill O'Reilly's bosses Wednesday, April 19, 2017, to escalating reports that the Fox News Channel personality will lose his job following accusations he had harassed women. New York magazine said that Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O'Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

O'Reilly is also one of the country's most popular nonfiction authors. The books in his "Killing" historical series, including "Killing Lincoln" and "Killing Reagan," have consistently sold 1 million or more copies in hardcover, a rare achievement in publishing, and his platform on Fox enabled him to promote his work. He has also had best-sellers with everything from the memoir "A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity" to his most recent work, "Old School," which includes passages urging the respectful treatment of women.

O'Reilly and co-author Martin Dugard are due to release another book in the "Killing" series in September, and a spokeswoman for publisher Henry Holt and Co. said that plans had not changed.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed O'Reilly was in the VIP section for the pope's Wednesday appearance. Burke, a former Fox News correspondent in Rome, denied having facilitated the tickets. Such tickets can be obtained via special request to the papal household from embassies, high-ranking churchmen or Vatican officials.

Francis always swings by the VIP seats at the end of his audience for a quick round of handshakes. A photographer from the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano snapped a photo of Francis reaching out to shake his hand.

___

AP writers Nicole Winfield in Rome and Hillel Italie in New York contributed to this story.

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