Fox News drops headline act Bill O'Reilly amid harassment claims

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Associated Press

Fox News Channel's parent company fired Bill O'Reilly today following an investigation into harassment allegations, bringing a stunning end to cable news' most popular program and one that came to define the bravado of his network over 20 years.

O'Reilly, 67, lost his job on the same day he was photographed in Rome shaking the hand of Pope Francis.

The downfall of Fox's most popular - and most lucrative - personality began with an April 2 report in The New York Times that five women had been paid a total of $13 million to keep quiet about alleged disturbing encounters with O'Reilly, who continued to deny any wrongdoing in a statement hours after he was fired.

Dozens of his show's advertisers fled within days, even though O'Reilly's viewership increased.

O'Reilly's exit came nine months after his former boss, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, was ousted following allegations of sexual harassment.

Following the Times story, 21st Century Fox said it had asked the same law firm that investigated Ailes to look into O'Reilly's behavior.

21st Century Fox leaders Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James said in a memo to Fox staff that their decision to ax O'Reilly came following an "extensive review" into the charges.

"I understand how difficult this has been for many of you," Rupert Murdoch said in a memo to Fox staff.

O'Reilly, denied a chance to say goodbye to his Fox viewers, did so via a statement.

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