Fox News has officially severed ties with Bill O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” after sexual harassment accusations were leveled against him.
The company has released the following statement:
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”
O’Reilly said in a separate statement that it is “tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”
‘‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’’ will begin airing an hour earlier to fill the time slot vacated by O’Reilly’s show, according to the company. Starting Monday, Carlson’s show will be followed at 9 p.m. by ‘‘The Five,’’ relocating from its afternoon slot.
In a memo to Fox staff on Wednesday, company leaders said the decision followed an extensive review done in collaboration with an outside counsel.
Advertisers had been pulling their ads from O’Reilly’s nightly talk show amid the allegations, and parent company 21st Century Fox said earlier this month that the company was investigating one of the claims.
O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing. On Tuesday, a lawyer for O’Reilly told the New York Times in a statement that O’Reilly “has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.”
A Times report Tuesday also said that support of O’Reilly from the Murdoch family was waning, and that O’Reilly’s fate at Fox News was supposed to be discussed at a board meeting on Thursday.
The move comes after many women accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment, including former Fox News contributor Wendy Walsh.
Another woman — who is African-American — had come forward to the parent company Tuesday, saying O’Reilly referred to her as ‘‘hot chocolate’’ at one point when they were together alone, made grunting noises, and leered at her cleavage and legs.
Walsh spoke openly about the matter earlier this month, noting that the statute of limitations has passed for her to sue and that she was not bound by any gag orders like the women who were in litigation.
‘‘Nobody can silence me because my voice is not for sale,’’ Walsh said. ‘‘Nobody can buy my voice.’’
The Times reported earlier this month that 21st Century Fox or O’Reilly paid $13 million to five women since 2002 to settle cases where they alleged inappropriate behavior by O’Reilly. The popular Fox News host, a Boston University alumnus who had worked at the student newspaper there, has denied any wrongdoing.
In the wake of the scandal, President Donald Trump defended O’Reilly.
“Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office with Times reporters. “Because you should have taken it all the way; I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Trump said.
O’Reilly has been on a nearly two-week vacation, but had been scheduled to return next Monday. O’Reilly was photographed in Rome shaking Pope Francis’ hand on Wednesday.
Through four days of his vacation, his show’s viewership declined by 23 percent in the hands of substitutes Dana Perino, Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld.Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.