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.
He had been scheduled to return from a vacation next Monday. O'Reilly was photographed in Rome shaking Pope Francis' hand on Wednesday.
It marks a stunning end to a near perfect marriage between a pugnacious personality and network. For two decades O'Reilly has ruled the "no spin zone" with cable news' most popular show, and his ratings had never been higher.
NEW YORK — 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 reported Wednesday, based on unnamed sources, that Rupert Murdoch and sons James and Lachlan, who run Fox parent 21st Century Fox, had decided that O’Reilly was out and executives were planning the exit. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper owned by the Murdochs, wrote that the company was preparing to cut ties with O’Reilly.
The New York Times reported April 2 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 following the report, though O’Reilly’s viewership increased. O’Reilly has denied wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, on vacation in Rome Wednesday, O’Reilly shook Pope Francis’ hand.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed O’Reilly was in the VIP section Wednesday.
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 writer Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.