Bill O’Reilly may not be returning to Fox News after his vacation, according to a New York Magazine story published Tuesday.
Three sources cited by the publication said Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch was fighting to keep the controversial commentator on, while Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan Murdoch appear to be leaning toward booting O’Reilly for good.
James Murdoch serves as the chief executive of 21st Century Fox, the parent company of the network, while Lachlan Murdoch serves as an executive chairman. A board meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday, a spokeswoman told CNN Money.
The latest report comes after a New York Times story earlier this month that said O’Reilly had paid $13 million over the course of several years to agree “not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations.”
The exposé was then followed by a week-long exodus of advertisers from O’Reilly’s hit show “The O’Reilly Factor,” and street protests outside of Fox News headquarters – all of the events stemming from a sexual harassment scandal that has disrupted not only O’Reilly’s brand, but the structure of the show.
Having had the highest-rated first quarter in history with an average of almost four million viewers per show, each episode subsequently suffered a massive pull-out from notable advertisers after the allegations came to light – forcing a dramatic change in the show’s structure, including longer on-air segments and fewer commercial breaks.
“It’s worse than Glenn Beck,” one source said, referring to another advertiser pull-out from Beck’s time slot on Fox News in 2011.
Conservative commentator Matt Drudge also had a foreshadowing tweet on Tuesday afternoon:
Amid the public outcry and allegations against the controversial television personality, more accusations are still coming to light. Another woman accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment, according to a Hollywood Reporter story published Tuesday. The African-American clerical worker from Fox News alleged that the anchor called her “hot chocolate” in 2008.
If the rumors of O’Reilly’s departure hold true, it may have been fueled by the Murdochs’ $14 billion takeover plans of Sky, a European media company, where a media regulator was assigned to determine whether the Murdochs were “fit and proper” to stake their claim. Having O’Reilly ousted from the network may “appease critics and help close the Sky deal,” New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman wrote.
Additionally, Sherman reported that the social culture at Fox News may have played a factor in determining O’Reilly’ future.
“Morale is awful,” said a Fox female executive to the magazine. “There’s been no word from management to calm the masses.”
In a seperate CNN report, several anonymous sources also came forward to say that talks of O’Reilly’s successors were already underway. Fox representatives did not comment to either CNN or New York Magazine as of Tuesday.