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The controversy surrounding Fox News' ratings superstar Bill O'Reilly is showing no signs of abating, much like there seems to be no end to the channel's variety of recent scandals. The latest problems stem from reports alleging multiple sexual harassment lawsuits against the conservative host from over the years all ended in high-end settlements outside the courtroom. As a result, many big name companies like BMW and Mercedes Benz have made the decision to pull all advertising from airing during Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, and more are expected to do the same.
As of this point, there are ten companies that have yanked commercials from The O'Reilly Factor. That list includes the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai, both of which severed ties on Monday night, as well as the set of businesses who dropped out on Tuesday. According to CNN Money, that includes BMW of North America, Allstate, GlaxoSmithKline, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, T. Rowe Price, Constant Contact, Untuckit and Sanofi Consumer HealthCare. That's a wide range of assorted industries there, from automakers to insurance to pharmaceuticals to clothing and then some.
No one involved with Fox News or its parent company have responded to the advertising exodus yet, and while it's not immediately clear just how much all of those companies put into the show's ad revenue, losing eight companies in a 24-hour swoop has to be damaging, and one has to assume a response will be necessary before much longer. What that response would be, though, is beyond me. (Hyundai actually hasn't aired any ads with the show yet, but has halted upcoming ads that were planned to air.)
For his side, Bill O'Reilly issued a public response to the hubbub, and it's also worth noting that of the five sexual harassment lawsuits that were already public knowledge, the news anchor claimed they were without merit. His latest comment on the subject claims that the lawsuits are just attacks on him and Fox News, and he basically says the $13 million in settlements happened to protect his children from dealing with whatever ugliness would have happened otherwise. It's no secret that trials of that nature can get ugly, regardless of who's in the right or wrong, which is why a lot of payoffs of that nature happen. And even though they aren't admissions of guilt, advertisers don't follow the same rules as a courtroom.
It's unclear when, or even if, this situation can get cleared up, since every time one Fox News problem goes away, another two surface. The National Organization for Women is calling for Fox News to terminate Bill O'Reilly from his gig, which definitely feels like the extreme on that end, but it also doesn't seem likely that this will all get swept under the office rug. Especially if more companies follow suit.