Mercedes-Benz is pulling advertisements from Fox News’ top program, The O’Reilly Factor, as a history of sexual harassment allegations against its host, Bill O’Reilly, comes to light.
“We don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products,” a spokesperson for the luxury car maker told CNN on Monday.
BREAKING: Mercedes spokesperson tells me it's pulled ads from the O'Reilly Factor pic.twitter.com/CezYfuUnK6
— Tom Kludt (@TomKludt) April 3, 2017
A New York Times investigation published over the weekend found that five women who had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior had received payouts from either O’Reilly or Fox News — totaling roughly $13 million — to keep quiet.
All five of the women either worked for O’Reilly at Fox News or appeared on his show. “They have complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating,” the Times reported.
For his part, O’Reilly denied the merit of the allegations and sought to portray himself as the victim in a statement to the Times. “Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” the statement read.
Lisa Bloom, an attorney representing Wendy Walsh, one of O’Reilly’s accusers, called for an independent investigation of sexual harassment at Fox News on Sunday, comparing the network to Bill Cosby, who faces sexual assault allegations from dozens of women.
The accusations against O’Reilly come in the wake of a high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Last summer, Ailes was sued by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who alleged that he sexually harassed her and retaliated against her for complaining. Fox settled with Carlson for $20 million in September, half of what Ailes reportedly received in his exit package after being dismissed two months prior.
An internal investigation sparked by the Carlson lawsuit found at least 10 other claims of improper behavior by Ailes. But that investigation was limited in scope to strictly Ailes’ behavior and did not extend to the broader culture at Fox News. Shortly thereafter, the New York Times found “a dozen women who said they had experienced some sort of sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox News or the Fox Business Network” and six others who said they witnessed it.
UPDATE 4/3: Hyundai joined Mercedes-Benz in pulling its advertising from The O’Reilly Factor on Monday, citing “the recent and disturbing allegations.” In a statement to the New York Times, a spokesman added that “as a company we seek to partner with companies and programming that share our values of inclusion and diversity.”
O’Reilly did not address the new allegations against him on Monday’s show.
UPDATE 4/4: On Tuesday, BMW of North America added itself to the growing list of companies pulling their ads from O’Reilly’s show, BuzzFeed News reports.