LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bill O’Reilly is taking a vacation from his Fox News Channel show amid sponsor defections triggered by sexual harassment allegations.
Announcing the break at the end of Tuesday’s show, O’Reilly made a point of saying it was planned and long in the works. He said he will return April 24.
Around this time of year, “I grab some vacation, because it’s spring and Easter time. Last fall, I booked a trip that should be terrific,” he said.
His vacation announcement comes as about 60 companies said they won’t advertise on his show. The exodus followed a recent report in The New York Times that five women were paid a total of $13 million to keep quiet about harassment allegations.
Fox Watcher Gabriel Sherman reports that James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, hopes to make the vacation a permanent one.
James Murdoch wants O’Reilly taken off the air for good, 2 sources sayhttps://t.co/QSWNAd9ZkY
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) April 12, 2017
The amount of advertising time by paying customers on “The O’Reilly Factor” has been cut by more than half since the Times report, according to an analysis issued Tuesday by Kantar Media.
But O’Reilly, cable TV news’ most popular personality, hasn’t been abandoned by his audience. His show averaged 3.7 million viewers over five nights last week, up 12 percent from the 3.3 million he averaged the week before and up 28 percent compared to the same week in 2016.
“O’Reilly Factor” drew an average of just under 4 million viewers for the first three months of 2017, his biggest quarter ever in the show’s 20-year history.
On Tuesday, the host offered his audience some general advice.
“If you can possibly take two good trips a year, it will refresh your life. We all need R&R. Put it to good use,” O’Reilly said.