Eleven advertisers have withdrawn support from Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” after Saturday’s explosive New York Times exposé that revealed $13 million has been spent on sexual harassment settlements involving host Bill O’Reilly.
Four automakers, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi have all pulled their adds from the show along with pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Consumer Care, Allstate, and T. Rowe Price, Untuckit, Constant Contact and Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, according to NBC News.
Research firm Kantar Media told NBC News that “The O’Reilly Factor” made $446 million on advertising from 2014 to 2016. O’Reilly, the most-watched personality in cable news, has denied all claims.
“I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline,” O’Reilly responded in a statement.
Paul Rittenberg, EVP of Advertising Sales at FOX News, said in a statement obtained by TheWrap on Tuesday, “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.”
While advertisers back away, viewers are staying put. On Monday night, “Factor” was the most-watched show among all of cable news, averaging 3.7 million total viewers and 645,000 among the ad-friendly demographic of adults age 25-54. O’Reilly was up 24 percent compared to the same day last year and nine percent compared to last Monday. Last night’s episode, the first one since the Times story broke, even beat ABC’s “Quantico” and Fox broadcast’s “24 Legacy” in total viewers.
And as 11 advertisers have backed away from the show so far, it wouldn’t be shocking to see other big-name brands stick with O’Reilly as long as his show draws large audiences.
As recently as last December, TheWrap ran a story titled, “Why Bill O’Reilly is having a better week than you,” that said he was dominating the cable news landscape while simultaneously sitting atop the New York Times best-seller list with his book, “Killing the Rising Sun.”
However, in addition to the five settlements uncovered by the Times, O’Reilly was also mentioned in a lawsuit filed last August by former host Andrea Tantaros against Fox News, Ailes and current co-president Bill Shine.
“Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” the lawsuit stated.