Shared from the 2017-04-21 Chattanooga eEdition

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Without O’Reilly, Fox News faces its toughest test

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ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly appears on the Fox News show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” in New York. O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that several women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations.

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NEW YORK — Fox News Channel has thrived despite losing founding leader Roger Ailes and next generation star Megyn Kelly within the past nine months. Wednesday’s firing of defining personality Bill O’Reilly will be its toughest test yet.

Fox moved quickly to install a new lineup after announcing O’Reilly’s exit due to several harassment allegations by women, which he continues to deny. Outside pressure isn’t leaving with him; members of the National Organization for Women demonstrated outside Fox’s headquarters Thursday, saying the company’s workplace culture won’t really change unless management cleans house of other high-ranking executives who knew about the sexual harassment but didn’t do anything.

For most of Fox’s existence, O’Reilly had been the linchpin of its success as the most visible and most watched host. Fox’s viewership at 9 p.m. went up when Tucker Carlson replaced Kelly in January — her battles with Donald Trump cost her support among many Fox viewers — but don’t expect Carlson to repeat the feat when he moves an hour earlier on Monday.

“There’s going to be some dismay among the Fox audience,” said Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the conservative watchdog Media Research Center. “The real question is what happens next. If they offer the same generic product, then it will be forgive and forget.”

Announcing a new lineup at the same time as the O’Reilly firing was smart, Graham said, because it enabled some viewers to say, “Oh, that’s not bad. I can live with that.”

Fox News has consistently been the most-watched network in all of cable television, not just news, over the past few months. The ouster of Ailes due to sexual harassment allegations last summer may have been disturbing, but meant little to viewers because it was off the air. Most of his management team remained, and the network’s approach didn’t change.

O’Reilly payout could be as high as $25 million

Bill O’Reilly is leaving Fox News with a payout of up to $25 million, the equivalent of one year of his salary, two people briefed on the matter said Thursday.

For 21st Century Fox, the network’s parent company, payouts related to sexual harassment allegations at Fox News now total more than $85 million. The vast majority of that — up to $65 million in exit packages — is being paid to the men who were ousted from the network because of the harassment allegations.

Bill O’Reilly

accuser appears on ‘The View’

NEW YORK — One of Bill O’Reilly’s accusers said she felt triumphant when the Fox News Channel

host was fired following an investigation into claims of harassment by women.

Perquita Burgess, a

former clerical worker at Fox, went on “The View” Thursday to talk about encounters with O’Reilly nine years ago. Burgess first made her complaint public on Tuesday through attorney Lisa Bloom but did so anonymously. Now she’s come forward to be identified. Burgess, who is black, said O’Reilly leered at her and made grunting noises when he passed her desk and once referred to her as “hot chocolate.”

Seeing O’Reilly lose his job because of actions against women felt very cathartic, she said.

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