Advertisers are fleeing “The O’Reilly Factor” following revelations that several women received a collective $13 million in settlements after accusing host Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment.
But O’Reilly, who has worked at Fox News since the network launched in 1996, was a source of controversy long before The New York Times published its bombshell report on the accusations against him. The anchor has a history of making racist, sexist or otherwise inflammatory remarks — none of which prompted companies to pull advertisements from his show.
Here’s a look back at some of O’Reilly’s worst moments in his 20 years at Fox News.
He was previously accused of sexual harassment.
In 2004, Andrea Mackris, who was then a producer at Fox News, sued O’Reilly for sexual harassment. Her allegations, which can be found here, include multiple instances of O’Reilly making lewd remarks during phone conversations.
O’Reilly denied the charges, but settled the lawsuit. As HuffPost’s Michael Calderone wrote earlier this week, the suit had no lasting effect on O’Reilly’s career at Fox News.
He’s also faced domestic violence allegations.
In 2015, Gawker reported on court documents that showed O’Reilly had been accused of physically abusing his former wife, Maureen McPhilmy. According to the report, O’Reilly’s daughter allegedly claimed she had seen her father “dragging McPhilmy down a staircase by her neck.”
O’Reilly said the report was “100 percent false.” An appeals court, however, awarded McPhilmy primary custody of the estranged couple’s two children.
He made racist comments about a congresswoman.
Last month, O’Reilly mocked Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-Calif.) hair during a segment of “Fox & Friends.”
“I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig,” he said. “Do we have a picture of James Brown? It’s the same wig.”
O’Reilly later apologized for his comments, while Waters took him to task during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
“I am a strong black woman, and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined,” she said.
He aired an incredibly offensive segment on Chinatown.
Last year, “The O’Reilly Factor” aired a five-minute segment featuring longtime producer Jesse Watters walking around New York City’s Chinatown and asking residents offensive questions.
The segment drew widespread condemnation for blatantly mocking Asian-Americans and promoting racist stereotypes. O’Reilly, however, stood by Watters and the decision to air the segment.
“He’s not getting fired,” O’Reilly said. “We are a program that is not politically correct.”
He’s vilified Black Lives Matter.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a frequent target of Fox News scorn, and O’Reilly is no exception. He’s claimed the group is “killing Americans,” called it a “destructive movement” and declared that “very few white Americans” respect it.
He’s also labeled the movement a “hate America group” and said Martin Luther King Jr. “would not participate” in the group’s protests.
And blamed Trayvon Martin’s death on how he was dressed.
In a 2013 interview with former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), O’Reilly blamed the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, on how Martin was dressed at the time.
“If Trayvon Martin had been wearing a jacket like you are and a tie like you are, Mr. West, this evening, I don’t think George Zimmerman would have any problem,” O’Reilly said. “But he was wearing a hoodie and he looked a certain way. And that way is how ‘gangstas’ look. And, therefore, he got attention.”
He alleged former President Barack Obama had “deep emotional ties to Islam.”
Last July, O’Reilly argued that the then-president was incapable of fighting the Islamic State group because of his “emotional attachment to the Muslim world,” ties the anchor said had “hurt the USA.”
His argument largely hinged on photos appearing to show Obama attending his Muslim half-brother’s wedding in the early 1990s, as well as information that his stepfather and father were Muslim (despite little evidence that Obama Sr. ever practiced Islam).
“What we can tell you with certainty is that Barack Obama has deep emotional ties to Islam,” O’Reilly said.
He used a slur for Mexican immigrants.
In 2003, O’Reilly described undocumented immigrants from Mexico as “wetbacks” while discussing security at the U.S.-Mexico border.
During the segment, O’Reilly argued in favor of using military force at the border.
“We’d save lives because Mexican wetbacks, whatever you want to call them, the coyotes, they’re not going to do what they’re doing now, so people aren’t going to die in the desert,” he said.
O’Reilly later said he misspoke.
“I was groping for a term to describe the industry that brings people in here. It was not meant to disparage people in any way,” he told The New York Times.
He claimed slaves who built the White House were “well-fed.”
After first lady Michelle Obama made some emotional observations in 2016 about what it was like as a black woman to live in a house built by slaves, O’Reilly seized the opportunity to mansplain that, actually, those slaves had it pretty good.
“Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802,” he said. “However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well.”
He shamed Megyn Kelly for speaking out about harassment she faced at Fox News.
After former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson sued Fox News chief Roger Ailes for sexual harassment (leading to his ouster), Fox News personality Megyn Kelly also came forward with allegations against the executive.
O’Reilly addressed the allegations on his show and criticized Kelly for her decision to speak out.
“If somebody is paying you a wage, you owe that person or company allegiance. You don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave,” he said. “And then take the action you need to take afterward if you feel aggrieved. There are labor laws in this country. But don’t run down the concern that supports you by trying to undermine it.”
Kelly left the network for NBC less than two months later.
He repeatedly compared gay marriage to marrying animals.
While O’Reilly’s stance on same-sex marriage appears to have shifted over the years, he’s previously claimed that legalizing gay weddings would be a slippery slope toward allowing humans to marry animals, including ducks, goats, dolphins and turtles.
“Laws that you think are in stone ― they’re gonna evaporate, man,” he said in 2005. “You’ll be able to marry a goat ― you mark my words!”