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Bill O'Reilly Spins Out: Americans Want His Show Canceled—and Their Numbers Are Growing

After years of pushing racism and sexism, the Fox News host may be immersed in a scandal that will finally take him down.

Photo Credit: Fox News/YouTube

A rapidly growing number of Americans think Fox News should pull the plug on "The O'Reilly Factor." The increase in those calling for Bill O'Reilly's dismissal comes as yet another woman has stepped forward to allege racial and sexual harassment and intimidation by the host.

According to a new survey from Morning Consult, nearly half, or 46 percent, of respondents say Fox News and parent company 21st Century Fox should pull the plug on the network’s highest-rated host. That’s more than double the 22 percent of people who believe O’Reilly should remain on television.

Those numbers have been on the rise over the past few weeks as O’Reilly has been fully engulfed by a sexual harassment scandal. Earlier this month, just 41 percent of those polled said O’Reilly should lose his hosting duties.

There’s also been a dip in support among those who regularly tune into “The O’Reilly Factor.” Almost a quarter—or 23 percent—of self-described viewers of the show now say it should be canceled, an increase of 4 percent since April 6-9. Morning Consult researchers also note that “fewer people admit to watching the show compared to that earlier polling: Among all respondents, there was a 6-point drop in people who said they watch ‘The O’Reilly Factor.’”

Those O’Reilly fans now hiding their viewing habits should have been embarrassed long ago. A recent New York Times investigation found that Fox News and O’Reilly have made hush money payments of $13 million to women who have accused the host of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviors over the years.

But allegations of sexual harassment have dogged O’Reilly for more than a decade. As far back as 2004, an associate producer on O’Reilly’s program filed court papers alleging “O’Reilly offered her unsolicited advice on masturbation, claimed women had been ‘amazed’ by his ‘big cock,’ [and] bragged about participating in threesomes.” Fox News and O’Reilly himself have paid settlements to at least five women to avoid going to court, while allegations made by at least two other women remain outstanding.

According to court papers filed in 2015, he allegedly choked his ex-wife and dragged her down a flight of stairs in front of his children.

On Tuesday, Law Newz and numerous other sources reported that an African-American woman “who worked as a clerical worker in 2008 at Fox News [claimed] Bill O’Reilly engaged in a pattern of harassment that lasted for months including making animal noises at her, staring at her cleavage and calling her ‘hot chocolate.’” Her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, has said the anonymous woman isn’t suing for any money—she simply wants to register her charges on the record.  

If this latest scandal brings O’Reilly down, it won’t be a moment too soon. O’Reilly’s contributions to the culture during his tenure at Fox News have mostly consisted of far-right talking points and the repeated wish to return to the days when America was whiter and everybody spoke English. O’Reilly has been a longstanding proponent of the idea that white supremacy is good for the country, young black men are criminals in waiting and slavery wasn’t so bad. He has reportedly used the term “wetback” in public on more than one occasion. After attacking Brian Williams for fabricating an Iraq War story, it was discovered that O’Reilly had invented his own tales about the dangers he faced in the Falklands.

O’Reilly has been on vacation for the last week, a trip he has said was planned long before he became embroiled in scandal. Fox News higher-ups are reportedly mulling his future with the network.

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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