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Bill O’Reilly Is Out at Fox News, But Don’t Congratulate the Network For Finally Taking a Stand

O'Reilly's exit comes 13 years after allegations of sexual harassment toward female colleagues first surfaced against the host.

Bill O'Reilly Television personality Bill O'Reilly waits for the start of an event in the East Room of the White House,, in Washington. Joined at the White House by young men of color, President Barack Obama was calling on America's businesses, philanthropists and government leaders to join forces to put more boys on a path toward successful lives. Foundations were to announce pledges to spend at least $200 million over five years to promote that goal as Obama launches his "My Brother's Keeper" initiativeObama Minority Men, Washington, USA

Bill O’Reilly

Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Thirteen years. That’s how long it took for Fox News Channel to finally do something about Bill O’Reilly.

Bill O’Reilly is out as host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” disappearing in disgrace after 21 years at Fox News Channel. The host has been on vacation since last week, and now won’t be returning to the network’s lineup. “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,” the network said in a statement released Wednesday.

He was the face of the world’s most powerful TV news outlet, which makes this a Really Big Deal. It finally sends a long-delayed message that sexual harassment shouldn’t be tolerated in the workplace, or anywhere.

A view of a sign promoting Bill O'Reilly's show at Fox News Channels' studios following a protest by people who were calling on the network to fire O'Reilly for sexual harassment allegations against him in New York, New York, USA, 18 April 2017. O'Reilly's show has reportedly lost up to 30 advertisers and is under increasing public pressure due to recent reports that O'Reilly and Fox has settled five cases in the past 15 years for $13 million with women working with O'Reilly.Protest Against Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly, New York, USA - 18 Apr 2017

But before you say “better late than never,” remember that it took 13 years for the network to address concerns about O’Reilly’s behavior toward female colleagues. That’s more than a decade, during which time O’Reilly allegedly was able to sexually harass other network employees. And that’s 13 years during which Fox News, and parent 21st Century Fox (and, before it was spun off, News Corp.) did nothing.

READ MORE: Bill O’Reilly Harassment Allegations: The Murdochs Must Take Action to Preserve Fox’s Legacy

In 2004, Fox News employee Andrea Mackris sued the host, claiming that O’Reilly had regularly harassed her, since at least 2002, through lewd language and conduct. According to the complaint (still available on The Smoking Gun), Mackris was subjected to a “sexually hostile work environment” by her immediate supervisor, O’Reilly, that was “so offensive and severe that it detrimentally altered the terms and conditions” of her employment.

Fox itself allowed a “permissive and encouraging environment for gender discrimination and sexual harassment reigns among supervisors, managers and employees,” the suit added.

The suit was eventually settled out of court, and both Fox News and O’Reilly managed to mostly sweep it under the rug. O’Reilly remained as host, and arguably grew even more influential and powerful, despite the very public, and embarrassing, allegations in the suit.

Andrea Mackris, right, appears at a news conference in New York . Mackris, a Fox News Channel producer, sued Bill O'Reilly for sexual harassment Wednesday, alleging her boss had phone sex with her against her wishes three times. Fox filed a claim of its own saying the complaint was a politically motivated extortion attempt. Mackris is an associate producer on ''The O'Reilly Factor,'' a job she returned to in July after a short stint at CNNOREILLY LAWSUIT, NEW YORK, USA

Andrea Mackris in 2004

GREGORY BULL/AP/REX/Shutterstock

But apparently, despite shelling out millions of dollars to make that suit (and, apparently other complaints over the years) go away, Fox News and 21st Century Fox hadn’t learned its lesson.

Until last year. The hasty exit of Fox News kingpin Roger Ailes was a sign that things might be handled differently at the company as Murdoch brothers James and Lachlan continued to amass more power. James Murdoch, in particular, appears to realize that a culture of misogyny and harassment at Fox News reflects poorly on the rest of the company.

READ MORE: Bill O’Reilly: Women’s Group to Fly Plane Banner Over New York Calling Him a ‘Sexual Predator’

Of course, it was a business decision first and foremost. More than 50 advertisers pulled out of “The O’Reilly Factor,” giving Fox News a migrane. Many of those advertisers were placing those dollars elsewhere, but “O’Reilly Factor” (and its rebroadcasts) occupy plum primetime real estate on Fox News, and that’s still money left on the table for the network. What’s more, the network’s continued success following the exit of Ailes proved that Fox News is bigger than any one person. That was also exhibited in the past by the exits of powerful Fox News hosts like Megyn Kelly and Glenn Beck, who were replaced by new shows that didn’t miss a beat in the ratings. The Fox News audience is loyal, no matter who is fronting its shows.

Also: Fox News’ aging audience won’t be around forever, and if the network wants to survive for decades to come – especially as distribution models change — it has to reach out to younger viewers who aren’t as willing to look the other way.

But O’Reilly also just recently sealed a new deal with Fox News and 21st Century Fox, which means – just like Ailes last year – the payout will likely be costly for the company. It’s one final “atta boy” to a host whose actions have been tolerated and tacitly accepted by the company for decades.

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