Embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced that he’s taking a vacation, with the break coming as his show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” struggles through an advertiser boycott over the cable star’s settlement of sexual harassment claims.
The AP reports that O’Reilly, who starts his break today, is due to return April 24. O’Reilly “hasn’t taken off this much time consecutively in March or April for at least 10 years, an examination of his show’s transcripts revealed,” the AP reports.
The report adds: “O’Reilly said he likes to take vacation around this time and that he booked this year’s break months ago. That would appear to stave off stories that the cable host had been pressured to make himself scarce for a while.”
Fox execs aren’t talking about whether they had anything to do with the timing or duration of O’Reilly’s break, but the report notes that the announcement sparked speculation about whether he will be back at all.
On Tuesday, O’Reilly said: “I grab some vacation, because it’s spring and Easter time. Last fall, I booked a trip that should be terrific.”
Advertisers have been fleeing “The O’Reilly Factor” since a report surfaced in The New York Times saying O’Reilly had settled sexual harassment and other claims to the tune of $13 million.
“Companies’ advertising time on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ has been cut by more than half since the Times report, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Kantar Media,” The Washington Post reports. “In the month before the Times report, ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ carried an average of 33 national ads totaling more than 14 minutes in an average broadcast, according to Kantar Media data. On Friday, the show included just seven spots totaling 4 minutes and 40 seconds, leaving free airtime Fox News has filled with extra content on O’Reilly’s show.”
TVWeek counted 12 national advertisers on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Tuesday night. They were Athene (annuities, reinsurance and institutional products), Qunol (coenzyme Q10), Harvest Right (freeze dryers), Rosland Capital (gold and silver seller), Stressless Furniture, RockAuto.com (auto parts), Fast Life (life insurance), Australian Dream (arthritis relief creme), Gravely (lawn mowers), Wagner OEx Brake Pads, TheraBreath (anti-halitosis product), and the Gotham Steel Crisper Tray (to prevent soggy fries).