The number of advertisers backing out of deals with Fox News Channel’s embattled “The O’Reilly Factor” continues to soar, with at least 16 marketers reportedly dropping the show at last count. The moves follow reports of settlements by host Bill O’Reilly of claims of sexual harassment.
The New York Times reported that the list of advertisers dropping the show had grown to at least 11, with Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai, who announced their moves Monday, joined today by BMW of North America; GlaxoSmithKline; T. Rowe Price; Mitsubishi; Allstate; Bayer; Constant Contact; Untuckit; and Sanofi Consumer HealthCare.
A report in the New York Daily News put the number at 16, noting that dozens of other companies had yet to be heard from. The Daily News report mentions Nutrish, Rachael Ray’s pet food brand; Esurance; and the Society for Human Resources Management, in addition to many of the other brands listed above.
The Daily News article quotes a statement from a rep for Esurance saying: “At Esurance, inclusion and support for women extends across all aspects of our business — from our associates to our customers to our partners. And we want to partner with organizations and programming that share those same values.”
Pharmaceutical giant Bayer issued a statement saying: “Bayer supports a safe, respectful and non-abusive environment for women and we have reached out to Fox to voice our concerns regarding this matter. Based on the serious nature of these allegations, we have made the decision to suspend all advertising on the program in question. This suspension has been requested immediately and will be handled as expeditiously as possible. We have been informed, however, that programming changes may not become effective immediately.”
Following a report Saturday by The New York Times, which reported that about $13 million had been paid out over the years to settle complaints from women about O’Reilly’s behavior, O’Reilly posted a statement on his website saying:
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.
“But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.
“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”