Bill O’Reilly’s Controversial Career: Looking Back at the Ousted Fox News Anchor’s Many Allegations & Blowups


After weeks of being publicly plagued by sexual harassment allegations from multiple women, Bill O’Reilly‘s two decade-long career at Fox News has come to an end in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

O’Reilly, 67, joined the network in 1996 to anchor The O’Reilly Factor and quickly became Fox News’ most prominent face — and favorite of then-chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who was ousted last July over his own sexual harassment allegations. In the years that followed, The O’Reilly Factor has remained the network’s top asset, routinely landing top ratings and pulling in billions of dollars in revenue for parent company 21st Century Fox.

But despite his significant success at the network, the fiery anchor has never been without controversy: Here’s a look back at the many public disputes and meltdowns that have spanned his career.

Heated On-Camera Feuds

The conservative political commentator is known for his testy on-air exchanges with guests — which at times have famously escalated into trash-talking, finger-thrusting screaming matches.

In fact, O’Reilly’s aggressive persona — pen-wielding, finger-pointing and all — went on to become the main inspiration for Stephen Colbert‘s satirical character on The Colbert Report.

9/11 Controversies

O’Reilly’s treatment of the 9/11 attacks caused backlash on several occasions. In 2003, during an interview with Jeremy Glick, a man whose father died in the attacks, O’Reilly grew outraged over the fact that Glick had signed a newspaper ad criticizing then-President George W. Bush‘s military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“You evoke 9/11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialist aggression worldwide,” said Glick.

“I don’t really care what you think,” said O’Reilly. “I’ve done more for the 9/11 families by their own admission — I’ve done more for them than you will ever hope to do. So you keep your mouth shut when you sit here exploiting those people.”

“Shut up!” he yelled. “You have a warped view of this world and a warped view of this country. … I hope your mom isn’t watching this because you — that’s it. I’m not going to say anymore. Cut his mic! I’m not going to dress you down any more, out of respect for your father.”

In 2010, longtime co-hosts of The View Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar famously walked off the daytime show after guest panelist O’Reilly shouted at them during a heated argument about the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque.”

“It’s inappropriate,” said O’Reilly, claiming “70 percent of Americans” didn’t want the mosque to be built and insisting “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”

“Of course, what I said is absolutely true, but is insensitive to some,” O’Reilly later said in defense on his statements. “In a perfect world you always say ‘Muslim terrorists killed us,’ but at this point I thought that was common knowledge. I guess I was wrong.”

Disputed Claims

Over the years, some of O’Reilly’s war coverage claims have been called into question.

Most notably, in 2015, Mother Jones published an article alleging the host mischaracterized his wartime reporting experience covering the 1982 Falklands War, claiming O’Reilly was not actually in the Falklands as he had previously stated, but in Buenos Aires.

O’Reilly issued a response on air, calling the writer a “liar” and denying having ever claimed to be in the Falklands: “Everything I’ve said about my reportorial career is true,” he maintained.

And that’s certainly not the first time his reporting has come under fire: Over the years, progressive media watchdogs have regularly critiqued the host, accusing him of distorting facts and using misleading statistics. In 2004, Media Matters for America awarded its annual “Misinformer of the Year” title to O’Reilly.

His Infamous Inside Edition Meltdown

In 2008, footage of O’Reilly losing his cool while taping an Inside Edition segment began making the rounds on the internet. (O’Reilly anchored the news magazine program from 1989–95.)

It’s not clear exactly what set him off — either a broken teleprompter or what he considered bad newscast writing — but off he went, arms flailing as he got progressively louder and more agitated, cursing at someone off camera and ripping off his suit jacket.

“Okay, whatever it is, it’s not right on the teleprompter. I don’t know what that is. I’ve never seen that,” he said. “I can’t read it! There’s no words on it! There’s no words there!”

“I can’t do it. We’ll do it live!” he shouted. “We’ll do it live, F— IT! Do it live! I’ll write it, and we’ll do it live! F—ing thing SUCKS!”

Domestic Violence Allegations

In 2015, Gawker reported that O’Reilly had been accused of allegedly physically assaulting his ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy during their marriage.

According to Gawker, the instance of alleged physical assault was heard by a Nassau County Supreme Court justice after a court-appointed forensic examiner testified at the closed hearing that O’Reilly and McPhilmy’s 16-year-old daughter “claimed to have witnessed her father dragging McPhilmy down a staircase by her neck” while O’Reilly was “apparently unaware that the daughter was watching.”

O’Reilly denied the allegations of abuse in a statement released to PEOPLE through his personal attorney: “All allegations against me in these circumstances are 100 percent false. I am going to respect the court-mandated confidentiality put in place to protect my children and will not comment any further.”

O’Reilly and McPhilmy met in 1992 and married in 1996. The couple separated in 2010 and divorced in 2011. McPhilmy now has custody of their two children following a contentious, three-year dispute.

Racism Accusations

Last month, O’Reilly came under fire for scorning Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters during a segment on Fox & Friends.

“I didn’t hear a word she said —  I was looking at the James Brown wig,” he remarked after watching a clip of Waters railing against President Donald Trump and the Republican party. (He also mocked Waters by raising a fist during the clip and mouthing, “Right on.”)

O’Reilly’s comments were widely accused of being racially charged as the segment spread on social media, and he later issued an apology for his behavior.

“As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs,” he said in a statement. “I said that again today on Fox & Friends calling her ‘old school.’ Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologize.”

After apologizing, O’Reilly later launched into a lengthy, scathing monologue during an O’Reilly Report segment, in which he claimed Waters would not come on his show because “she does not want to be challenged.”

Sexual Harassment Suits

On April 1, The New York Times reported that five women were paid a collective $13 million by either O’Reilly or 21st Century Fox for agreeing not to file lawsuits or speak publicly about allegations that O’Reilly sexually harassed them. The settlements — involving women who have either worked with O’Reilly or appeared on his show — took place sporadically between 2002 and 2016.

Of the five settlements, two were previously known — one which occurred in 2004 with former O’Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris, and another that was struck last year with former on-air personality Juliet Huddy.

O’Reilly then addressed the allegations in a statement posted a statement to his website on April 1, emphasizing that his position has made him “vulnerable to lawsuits,” despite the fact that “no one has ever filed a complaint” about him with the Human Resources Department.

“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel,” he wrote. “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.”

Following the allegations, dozens of advertisers pulled their commercials from The O’Reilly Factor, and on April 11, O’Reilly announced that he would be taking a vacation, adding that he scheduled the trip “last fall.”

Fox News Exit

The official word on O’Reilly’s fate at the network came down on Wednesday, with 21st Century Fox issuing a statement that they would be parting ways with O’Reilly, who had been at company more than two decades.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations,” reads the statement obtained by PEOPLE, “the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”



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