Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced last night that he is taking a vacation. O’Reilly’s decision to go off the air in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal and advertiser boycott arguably has the appearance of a suspension, but O’Reilly worked to dispel that notion, saying that he’d scheduled his trip before the New York Times reported he paid $13 million to settle harassment claims.
But according to four network sources, there’s talk inside Fox News that tonight’s show could be his last. Lawyers for the law firm Paul, Weiss, hired last summer by 21st Century Fox to investigate Roger Ailes, are currently doing a “deep dive” investigation into O’Reilly’s behavior.
According to MSN, the lawyers are now focused on sexual harassment claims by O’Reilly guest Wendy Walsh after she reported her claims via the company’s anonymous hotline.
Fox News co-president Bill Shine has been working hard to keep O’Reilly. But O’Reilly’s future is in the hands of the Murdochs. “It’s up to the family,” the senior Fox News staffer said. “Things are not looking good O’Reilly,” two highly-placed Fox News sources said, revealing that 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch would like O’Reilly to be permanently taken off the air.
That dynamic – James pushing for swift action – played out last summer in the Ailes scandal. James, of course, got Ailes fired. With more than three dozen advertisers boycotting O’Reilly, Fox staffers speculate the same may happen to O’Reilly, perhaps as early as during his vacation. “The assumption is that he won’t be back,” one senior Fox News staffer said.