When Fox News decided to cancel Bill O’Reilly’s show, it had America on its side.
According to a recent poll by Morning Consult from late last week, Americans wanted O’Reilly’s show canceled by a two-to-one margin: 46 percent said Fox should cancel The O’Reilly Factor, while 22 percent said Fox should keep it on the air. (The rest gave no opinion.) That was a big shift from the week before, when 41 percent said O’Reilly’s show should be canceled versus 28 percent who said it should remain on the air.
But O’Reilly’s audience was by and large still on his side: 58 percent of respondents who said they watch The O’Reilly Factor said Fox should keep the show on the air, while 23 percent said it should be canceled.
Still, even Republicans, who make up the base of O’Reilly’s viewers, seemed to start turning against him: The previous week, 26 percent said his show should be canceled. In the latest poll, 31 percent did.
Morning Consult conducted its latest poll between April 13 and 15, reaching more than 2,200 US adults.
The poll results came as O’Reilly faces mounting sexual harassment allegations. Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt reported for the New York Times that O’Reilly or Fox News has paid roughly $13 million since 2004 to five women who worked for O’Reilly or appeared on his show and later complained about his behavior. Two of the settlements reportedly came after former Fox News chair Roger Ailes was dismissed from the network in another sexual harassment scandal.
The growing support for O’Reilly’s cancellation correlates with greater awareness of the news of sexual harassment allegations. In Morning Consult’s latest poll, 50 percent of Americans said they had heard “some” or “a lot” about the news. The week before, only 44 percent had.
Morning Consult explained the allegations to survey takers in one of its questions, but not the question pertaining to whether O’Reilly should remain on air.
O’Reilly, for his part, has said the accusations have no merit. It’s possible he settled to avoid the costs and headlines that can come with a public trial of a high-profile figure.
But major companies haven’t taken any chances. They are pulling ads from The O’Reilly Factor in droves, with big names like Advil, GlaxoSmithKline, and Mercedes-Benz joining in the boycott. According to Variety, the number of national ads on O’Reilly’s show dropped from an average of 33 in the month prior to the Times report to just seven on Friday, April 7.
So Fox News decided to cancel O’Reilly’s show.
Based on Morning Consult’s polling, a plurality of Americans agree with that decision.