“The O’Reilly Factor” viewership reached 3.7 million Monday and 3.8 million Tuesday, up 14 percent from the prior week, according to USA Today. The increase comes just days after O’Reilly wrapped up a quarter in which he broke the record for total viewership on a cable news show.
The show has lost more than 40 advertisers in the days since The New York Times released its investigation revealing that five women have received settlement payouts totaling $13 million after accusing the 67-year-old host of sexual harassment. But a similar exodus has not occurred among viewers.
O’Reilly has largely stayed silent on the issue so far this week, except for a short statement on his website dismissing the allegations.
“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel,” he said. “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.”
Fox News had the highest ratings of any cable news network last year and 14 of the 15 most popular shows on cable news.
Even if O’Reilly is suspended from Fox, he will be more than fine due to his popularity as an author. Many of his books have topped The New York Times bestseller list in recent years.
“Time and again, we forgive prominent men — politicians, actors, singers, comedians — for their bad behavior, as though we almost expect it of them, while judging and criticizing famous women disproportionately for much smaller transgressions,” Marin Cogan wrote in a Vox piece Thursday.
The article highlights the difference in what seems to qualify for public outcry when it comes to men as opposed to women. Men in the spotlight who have been accused of harassment, from Hollywood to Capitol Hill, have gone on to have successful careers. Renewed media attention surrounding Casey Affleck’s sexual harassment settlement didn’t prevent the actor from winning the Oscar for Best Actor in February.
And O’Reilly has received the support of his network, and even President Donald Trump, despite the repeated allegations.
“I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” Trump, who faced a large number of sexual harassment claims during the 2016 election, said in an interview with The New York Times. “Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”