NEW YORK, N.Y. — Bill O’Reilly, host of the Fox News evening program “The O’Reilly Factor” has been hit with with a major drop in advertisers amid claims by a former program contributor that she was the target of sexual harassment.
As of Tuesday, nine major sponsors including such brand names as Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW of North America, GlaxoSmithKline, T. Rowe Price, Allstate, and Constant Contact had announced that they were withdrawing ads from “The O’Reilly Factor,’’ as news of the latest controversy surfaced.
The companies say they made the decision to pull advertising from O’Reilly’s program after The New York Times published an article (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/business/media/bill-oreilly-sexual-harassment-fox-news.html) in which it claimed that five women who had accused Mr. O’Reilly of sexual harassment had received settlements totaling $13 million.
In addition to the New York Times piece, Dr. Wendy Walsh claimed on Monday that her snubbing of Bill O’Reilly’s sexual advances cost her a paid job at Fox News.
Walsh, a psychologist and former The O’Reilly Factor commentator, claims that O’Reilly asked her to have dinner at the Bel-Air Hotel and after talking about her potential for future appearances on his show, withdrew his offer after she declined his sexual advances.
Fox’s “very tired, tattered playbook” of attacking women who speak out against the network’s “money-makers” needs to close,” said Walsh’s attorney, Lisa Bloom. “No company in America has the right to use its riches to flout the law, and that includes Fox News.”
O’Reilly has publicly denied any wrongdoing via a statement on his website, which reads:
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.
But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.
The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”
Fox News has not yet issued a formal statement on the controversy, but an internal memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/wendy-walsh-talks-bill-oreilly-calls-fox-news-investigation-990746) indicates that an internal investigation is ongoing.