Bill O’Reilly, host of the political commentary program The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel. (Photo by AFP)
Major international firms have cancelled advertisements with the US news network Fox News Channel following a series of sexual harassment claims against its best-known anchor Bill O’Reilly.
About 20 companies, including Bayer, Lexus, Allstate, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and GlaxoSmithKline pulled their ads out of Fox New’s The O’Reilly Factor by Wednesday after the New York Times reported on Saturday that O’Reilly had a history of sexual harassment cases that had been covered up by Fox.
Among the companies that confirmed they were suspending or cancelling ads from the news network were international automakers, insurance firms, drugmakers, marketing companies and apparel sellers. The number of companies pulling their ads out of the show was expected to rise even further.
The Times said $13 million had been paid to five women since 2002 over their complaints “in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him”.
The story said more than 60 people were interviewed, including present and past employees of Fox News or its parent company and people who know the women behind the complaints or are close to O’Reilly. Most demanded anonymity.
Meanwhile, the outspoken Fox TV host defended himself by saying he was “vulnerable to lawsuits” because of his high-profile job.
The announcement comes at difficult time for Fox News, whose former chairman Roger Ailes resigned last year after a sexual harassment lawsuit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.
On Monday, Ailes was hit by another lawsuit filed by Fox News contributor and political consultant who said she was denied a permanent job after she rebuffed Ailes’ sexual advances.
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