- Evan Vucci/AP
Fox News executives may be talking about giving Bill O’Reilly the boot.
O’Reilly announced on his show Tuesday that he was taking a vacation, but New York Magazine cited four network sources who said Tuesday night’s program could be O’Reilly’s last on the network.
“The assumption is that he’ll exit in a non-embarrassing way,” one senior Fox News staffer told the magazine.
O’Reilly insisted his vacation had nothing to do with a sexual harassment scandal currently disrupting his brand. The matter has led dozens of advertisers to pull their commercials from the time slot in which his show, “The O’Reilly Factor” airs.
Fox News representatives also told BuzzFeed News that O’Reilly wasexpected to returnon April 24.
“[Around] this time of year, I grab some vacation because it’s spring and Easter time,” O’Reilly said on Tuesday’s show. “Last fall I booked a trip that should be terrific.”
Although New York Magazine’s sources say network co-president Bill Shine was attempting to save O’Reilly, the matter rests solely on the shoulders of the Murdoch family, which includes Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox News, and James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox CEO.
“It’s up to the family,” one senior Fox News official said.
The Murdochs, however, seem to be divided on O’Reilly’s future, according to New York Magazine. Two officials from Fox News said that James Murdoch was opting to cut O’Reilly’s show, however, Rupert and his older brother Lachlan were fighting to keep the controversial commentator on.
The program is one of the network’s top-rated shows and a consistent top-performer among other cable news programs.
The network has been in this situation before, amid a similar harassment ordeal surrounding former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who resigned in July 2016.
Despite an advertiser exodus, “The O’Reilly Factor” has seen a surge in viewership. O’Reilly’s April 4 show alone managed to draw 3.76 million viewers.
But according to New York Magazine, legal pressures are also mounting. Attorneys from Paul, Weiss – a prestigious law firm known for taking on high-profile clients – was hired to do a “deep dive” investigation into O’Reilly’s history, honing in on the claims made by Wendy Walsh, a frequent guest of the show who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment.