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America reels as Bill O'Reilly, cable's #1 star, is axed by Fox after sexual allegations involving five women

That's it then. Fox News Channel has axed America's top cable star Bill O'Reilly from his show the O'Reilly Factor after sexual harassment allegations from five women. The show has been renamed The Factor.

O'Reilly: Disheartened

“We want to address a situation many of you may already be aware of. Bill O’Reilly, who hosted this program for 20 years, is leaving the Fox News Channel,” fill-in Dana Perino said at the beginning of the broadcast last night.“

"We know that you, his very loyal viewers, will have a lot of feelings about this, and we will talk more about it later on in the program."

Deadline reported that In FNC’s Mediabuzz, Howard Kurtz said his bosses severed ties to O’Reilly “after mounting allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior prompted the network to end his program.”

In his own statement, issued a few hours before The O’Reilly-less Factor began ,the ousted show host - on holiday in Italy where he met the Pope - said: “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.”

Perino closed Wednesday's show saying: ”It is the end of an era here at Fox News Channel. As we mentioned earlier, Bill O’Reilly is leaving this chair and this network after more than 20 years.

"Bill has been the undisputed king of cable news, and for good reason. He is an incredibly talented broadcaster who raised the bar for interviewers everywhere. He has also held his staff to exacting standards in his quest to put the best possible program on the air, and they are great.

“And you, the audience responded in record numbers, making The Factor the number one cable news show for more than 16 years. You have also been loyal and we can’t tell you how much that means to everyone on The Factor."

In a memo to staff, Rupert, James, and Lachlan Murdoch, who run Fox News, said of Bill: "By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success, by any measure, is indisputable.

“We wish him the very best.”

The attorney who represented Gretchen Carlson in her successful sexual harassment action against Fox last summer was quoted in Deadline ,“The departure of Bill O’Reilly is an important next step to clean up Fox News and make it a respectful and professional work environment.”

After the Carlsen case Roger Ailes lost his job and walked away with a $20 million settlement.

After O’Reilly was fired by Fox for reportedly big bucks, lawyer Nancy Erika Smith put FNC on notice that more was needed – and by more, she meant in the courts, in the checkbook and in the workplace, said Deadline

“If Twenty-First Century Fox genuinely wants to achieve that result, it will resolve without delay the claims of women, like Julie Roginsky, who have been harassed, intimidated, demeaned and discriminated against,” Smith said in a statement. She represents Roginsky in her April 3 filed sexual harassment and retaliation suit against Ailes and FNC.

Smith also called for Fox to release all employees from the mandatory arbitration and confidentiality clauses “that for so many years have silenced women and kept the harassers, enablers and retaliators in place.”

Fox News did not respond to a request by Deadline for comment from Deadline on Smith’s statement.

O'Reilly's salary is believed to be $18 million. The New York Times, which first reported the harassment settlements, said O’Reilly was an essential asset to Fox News. His No. 1 cable news show made about $178 million in advertising revenue in 2015.

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