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Bill O'Reilly speaks out: It is 'tremendously disheartening' that 'completely unfounded claims' cost me my job

Pamela Engel
Bill O'Reilly

(Bill O'Reilly in September 2004.REUTERS/Lisa Miller)
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, ousted from the network in the wake of a sexual-harassment scandal, said in a statement on Wednesday it was "disheartening" that "completely unfounded claims" had forced him out of his job.

21st Century Fox said earlier on Wednesday that O'Reilly would not return to Fox News after his impromptu vacation, ending weeks of speculation about his future at the outlet.

"Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television," O'Reilly said in the statement.

"It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims," he added. "But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today."

O'Reilly said he would look back on his time at Fox "with great pride in the unprecedented success" achieved and with "deepest gratitude" to his "dedicated viewers."

O'Reilly had spearheaded the networks' primetime lineup for over two decades. The news of his departure from Fox comes on the heels of an exodus of advertisers from his show's time slot. Earlier this month, The New York Times published an investigation that found that O'Reilly and Fox News had paid out $13 million to five women to settle sexual-harassment claims they had brought against him.

In an internal memo obtained by Business Insider, News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, said that "after a thorough and careful review of allegations against him, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Mr. O'Reilly will not return to the Fox News Channel.

"This decision follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel," the memo said.

Tucker Carlson will take over O'Reilly's 8 p.m. Eastern time slot, Fox News said. O'Reilly's show, "The O'Reilly Factor," will air the rest of this week with guest hosts.

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