Fox News sacks star presenter Bill O'Reilly

  • 20/04/2017

Bill O'Reilly has been forced out of his position as a primetime host on Fox News after a string of sexual harassment complaints against him.

Fox confirmed the presenter's departure on Thursday (NZ Time), after the disclosure of multiple settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him.

His sacking ends a 20-year reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television.

"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," 21st Century Fox, Fox News's parent company, said.

O'Reilly's departure was announced just hours after the embattled TV host enjoyed an audience with Pope Francis.

The broadcaster has been on holiday and met Pope Francis in St Peter's Square.

O'Reilly was seated in the VIP section, where a photographer from Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano took a photo of the Pope reaching out to shake his hand.

Bill O'Reilly leaves Fox News amid sexual harassment claims
Bill O'Reilly (Reuters)

His firing came after new reports that he called a black woman "hot chocolate" and leered at her.

The woman didn't work for the popular broadcaster, but her desk was near his office in 2008 when the alleged offending took place.

"He would never talk to her, not even hello, except to grunt at her like a wild boar... He would leer at her. He would always do this when no one else was around and she was scared," lawyer Lisa Bloom told The Hollywood Reporter.

"She's not asking for any money... She just wants them to know her story."

Ms Bloom says the woman never complained at the time out of fear of losing her job,

"Now that she's aware this is all in the news, she's decided to phone in a complaint to the Fox News hotline."

Fox boss Rupert Murdoch was reportedly being asked by his sons James and Lachlan to fire O'Reilly - not just because of the controversy in the US, but because it may be hurting their bid to buy Sky TV in Europe.

A lawyer for O'Reilly recently described the sexual harassment claims as a "brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America".