Throughout the day on Wednesday, the list—and presumably, Bill O’Reilly’s headache—kept growing. Twenty-four companies announced they were pulling their advertisements from his wildly popular, if hyper-partisan, O’Reilly Factor, in the wake of sexual-harassment allegations (and related settlements) against its host, revealed this weekend by The New York Times.
By mid-afternoon, the count had risen to 41.
The group of advertisers included established, national brands ranging from Mercedes-Benz and BMW to Glaxo-Smith Kline and H&R Block. As CNN pointed out, Fox could still count on a selection of “bottom feeder” ads for the hour—gold companies and direct-response marketers—but the dollars from big American brands were being pushed over to other, less fraught programs.
Perhaps the only bright spot for O’Reilly occurred when the president himself defended the host in an interview with the Times:
I think he’s a person I know well—he is a good person. I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled …Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.
The growing list of uneasy advertisers has been the result of activism on the part of several national and grassroots progressive groups, among them the National Organization for Women and Color of Change—both of which have called for O’Reilly’s ouster. (Terry O’Neill, the president of NOW, remained nonplussed by President Trump’s defense of O’Reilly, recalling the commander in chief’s own problems last year: “I think that a man who brags about sexual assault is not helping Bill O’Reilly,” she told me.)