Two major sponsors of The O'Reilly Report have pulled their ads from the show. The move follows the news that Bill O'Reilly and Fox News have paid out millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment lawsuits against the host of the network's most popular show.
On Sunday, The New York Times published a lengthy and well-documented article revealing that "a total of five women have received pay outs from either Mr. O'Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing not to pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him. Their agreements totaled about $13 million."
After the news broke, Mercedes-Benz pulled their advertising from the program. In a statement to CNN, Donna Boland, the manager of corporate communications at Mercedes-Benz, said, "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."
Yesterday, Hyundai followed suit, pulling their scheduled advertising and announcing the move to Emily Steel, one of the New York Times reporters who wrote the piece that ran on Sunday.
Trivago, Jenny Craig, and Lexus have all reported that they are reviewing their ad buys in light of the controversy, but have not yet pulled their sponsorship.
O'Reilly had no comments on the allegations during his program last night, but he did say this in response to the Times article:
"Just like other prominent and controversial people, 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."
Two of the settlements discussed by the Times have happened since Fox News's former chairman, Roger Ailes, was fired for the sexual harassment claims made against him by Gretchen Carlson and others. Ailes, like O'Reilly, has continued to deny the claims. Carlson reportedly settled her claims for $20 million.
Fox News may have additional problems. Yesterday, Julie Roginsky, a network contributor, filed a lawsuit against Ailes for sexual harassment. Roginsky claims in the lawsuit that "During these meetings, Ailes additionally (and without irony) volunteered the advice that Roginsky should engage in sexual relationships with 'older, married, conservative men' because 'they may stray but they always come back because they're loyal. Ailes also remarked that he was loyal but that loyalty was a two-way street. These comments and their delivery made it clear that Ailes wanted a sexual relationship with Roginsky."
The stories about both Ailes and O'Reilly describe the men making sexual advances toward contributors, reporters, and producers and offering promotions in return. Former O'Reilly contributor, Wendy Walsh, revealed her experiences in the Times article, and repeated the allegations in a press conference yesterday. Because she never settled with O'Reilly she is not bound to a confidentiality agreement.
Walsh's attorney has asked the New York City Human Rights Commission and the New York State Division of Human Rights to investigate the culture at Fox News, saying, "Today Wendy and I call upon these agencies to initiate their own independent investigations into the culture of sexual harassment that has been widely reported to exist at Fox News, to issue findings, and to require the company to take all necessary measures to protect the rights of working women."