What once seemed unimaginable now seems at least possible.
New York Magazines Gabriel Sherman reported Tuesday that the Murdoch family is leaning toward pulling Bill OReilly off of Fox Newsairwaves in the middle of growing pressure from advertisers and activist groups.
NPRsDavid Folkenflikand CNNsBrian Stelterreported later Tuesday that an OReilly exit was being discussed. The board of 21st Century Fox, Fox News parent company, was to meet Thursday and was likely to discuss OReilly, according to CNN.
The reports came as a new claim against OReilly was raised by attorney Lisa Bloom, who said the TV host used to call a black woman who worked as a clerical worker at Fox News hot chocolate during her time at the network in 2008. OReilly would reportedly make her feel uncomfortable in other ways as well.
He would never talk to her, not even hello, except to grunt at her like a wild boar, Bloom told The Hollywood Reporter. He would leer at her. He would always do this when no one else was around and she was scared.
Bloom, who said she verified the womans story with three witnesses,claims the woman feared she would lose her job if she complained at the time. She added that the woman wants no money, but has registered a complaint with the Fox News hotline in light of recent news about the host a service that apparently many female employees at the network only recently came to learn about.
Later on Tuesday in a statement provided to CNNs Dylan Byers, OReilly lawyer Marc Kasowitz argued that the claims were part of an orchestrated campaign by activists to bring OReilly down.
It is outrageous that an allegation from an anonymous person about something that purportedly happened almost a decade ago is being treated as fact, especially where there is obviously an orchestrated campaign by activists and lawyers to destroy Mr. OReilly and enrich themselves through publicity driven donations, Kasowitz said.
In a second statement to Beyers, Kasowitz said his client has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America, and irrefutable evidence of a smear campaign would be unveiled soon.
OReilly, who remains cable news most dominant figure, went on vacation last week as advertisers dropped him by the dozensfollowing a New York Times investigation that revealed the Fox News Network and the host had paid at least $13 million to settle five claims of sexual harassment.
More claims have continued to surface about the hosts actions some of them from the most unlikely of sources.
At least 70 advertisers have decided to no longer advertise on The OReilly Factor, which remains Fox Newsbiggest show by far. But OReilly Factor viewers remain committed to their host. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 65 percent of people who watch the show still hold a favorable view of him, and only 9 percent of his Republican viewers think the show should be canceled.
The shows ratings also dropped 26 percent in the first three days he was gone, further proof of OReillys influence, both nationally and internally at Fox News.
Sherman reports that James Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch have been arguing to their father,Rupert, that the network must rid itself of OReilly, but Rupert remains unsure, not wanting to appear to be bowing to outside pressure from outlets like The New York Times.
But on Tuesday, even Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report couldnt help but think that OReillys days might be numbered.
This article has been updated to include reports that Fox executives are discussing OReillys exit, and a 21st Century Fox board meeting on Thursday will consider his fate.
Chris DAngelo contributed reporting.