The luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz on Monday pulled its advertisements from Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” following reports that five women have alleged sexual harassment by the host, CNN reports.
In a statement to CNN Money, Mercedes-Benz said it “reassigned” advertisements originally set to appear on “The O’Reilly Factor” in light of news that O’Reilly and Fox have made about $13 million in payouts to five women to settle claims of sexual harassment.
“Yes, we had advertising running on The O’Reilly Factor (we run on most major cable news shows) and it has been reassigned in the midst of this controversy,” Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications at Mercedes-Benz, told CNN. “The allegations are disturbing and, given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now.”
According to the New York Times, the five women who’ve alleged harassment by O’Reilly either worked for his show or appeared as guests. The accusations mirror similar ones levied on former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who was ousted last year after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed suit against him. Following Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit, at least 20 other women contacted Carlson’s attorneys to corroborate allegations of sexual harassment.
Carlson and others’ lawsuits against Ailes and Fox News revealed a pervasive culture of sexual harassment in the halls of Fox News. Gabriel Sherman, the author who literally wrote the book on Ailes, detailed how the former chairman enabled widespread sexual harassment under the guise of “jokes.” While Ailes was pushed out at Fox, despite the deluge of allegations against O’Reilly, the host remains on air.
It remains to be seen whether other companies follow suit and pull their advertising money from O’Reilly’s program. According to CNN Money, rival brand Lexus said they “will continue to monitor the situation.”
“The Lexus ads appearing on the O’Reilly Factor are part of a wide ranging media package, with ads appearing on a variety of cable television programs,” Lexus said in a statement. “We take our duties as a responsible advertiser seriously, and seek to partner with organizations who share our company culture and philosophy of respect for all people. We will continue to monitor the situation and will take any appropriate action through our media buying partners.”
For his part, O’Reilly denies the allegations of sexual harassment, but says he settled the cases to “spare [his] children.”
“I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way,” O’Reilly said in a statement on his website. “And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”
“Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children,” he continued. “My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”