Advertisers are pissed, and they are pulling out of Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show after a New York Times investigation found that the news station and O’Reilly paid off even more alleged sexual harassment victims than initially reported.
Mercedes-Benz, one of O’Reilly’s top advertisers, announced early this week that it would not run any more commercials during The O’Reilly Factor. The automaker didn’t take it out on the news channel, though; instead they “reassigned” their advertising to other Fox News spots.
“Yes, we had advertising running on The O’Reilly Factor (we run on most major cable news shows) and it has been reassigned in the midst of this controversy,” Donna Boland, Mercedes-Benz corporate communications manager, said in a statement. “The allegations are disturbing and, given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now.”
Since Mercedes-Benz took the plunge, 10 other advertisers pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s show, too. NBC is reporting that those advertisers refusing to be associated with the news commentator and his show in wake of the sexual harassment lawsuits include: Hyundai, BMW, Mitsubishi, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Consumer Products, Constant Contact, Untuckit, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Allstate and T. Rowe Price.
There is some good news for Fox, though. Like Mercedes-Benz, these companies have not withdrawn their advertising money from the station altogether. The companies only said their ads will no longer run during the 8 to 9 p.m. Eastern time slot when The O’Reilly Factor airs.
“We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about The O’Reilly Factor. At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs,” Paul Rittenberg, executive vice president of advertising sales at Fox News, said in a statement.
All of this drama has gone down just days after the New York Times reported Fox News and O’Reilly paid as many as five women up to $13 million to settle sexual harassment lawsuits. O’Reilly has pushed back on the allegations but sort of seemed to admit paying to settle at least some of the claims.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” O’Reilly said in a statement released over the weekend. He added, “I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”
Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, noted that none of the women who alleged sexual harassment called the company’s anonymous hotline but said it “takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously.” The network doesn’t seem too fazed by the imbroglio, though, and they have just renewed O’Reilly’s contract for an undisclosed period of time.
It’s not hard to see why: namely a word that starts with m and ends in y. O’Reilly’s show generated more than $446 million in advertising revenue from 2014 to 2016. The O’Reilly Factor is currently the highest-rated show on cable news, averaging around 4 million viewers a night.
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