Scandals That Brought Down High-Profile News Anchors

It is a news anchor's responsibility to objectively report facts, which requires a certain degree of trust between the journalist and the viewer. A big scandal can shatter that trust, sending the entire newsroom's credibility swirling down the drain. With the 24-hour news cycle constantly hungry for content, a disgraced journalist is as juicy a scoop as any. Here are some news anchors who surprisingly found themselves on the wrong end of the story.

Bill O'Reilly

Longtime Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was forced from the network in the wake of The New York Times bombshell report revealing that he paid around $13 million in secret settlements to five women who accused him of "sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior." 

O'Reilly has vehemently denied every accusation, even in his statement about leaving the network when he said it was "tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims."

Fox News parent company, 21st Century Fox, framed O'Reilly's ouster as a mutual decision, claiming in a statement: "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel." It is widely believed that public pressure and loss of advertiser support were influential in O'Reilly's exit.

The opinionated creator of the No Spin Zone later resurfaced through his website and podcast, No Spin News, where he has continued his daily commentary on current events. However, he suffered another blow to his reputation in October 2017 when another article in The New York Times exposed a sixth sexual harassment settlement, for which O'Reilly reportedly paid out $32 million.

Eric Bolling

Eric Bolling, Fox News talking head and co-host of Fox News Specialists, saw his cable news career vanish amidst reports of his alleged lewd conduct towards fellow employees. On Aug. 4, 2017, HuffPost published a report claiming it had spoken with 12 women who said Bolling had sent "an unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one colleague at Fox News."

Bolling was suspended by Fox News, but he denied the allegations, tweeting: "I look forward to clearing my name asap." He also failed to release any kind of formal statement of denial, instead suing the HuffPost reporter who broke the story, Yashar Ali, for defamation, according to Variety. Fox News launched its own investigation into the matter, and a month later, Bolling was out.

In a statement from a Fox News spokesperson, the network said, "Bolling and Fox have agreed to part ways amicably," and announced that his show would be cancelled. "We thank Eric for his 10 years of service to our loyal viewers and wish him the best of luck."

Brian Williams

Brian Williams had the perfect blend of everyman likability and professional integrity. He was the George Clooney of network news. That all changed in 2015, when he was exposed for lying about being in a Chinook helicopter that was forced down after taking RPG fire in Iraq. He was actually in a completely different helicopter roughly half an hour away from where the chopper attack happened.

This discovery opened the floodgates for media and Internet scrutiny, which quickly uncovered more exaggerated claims or outright lies he had told about reporting from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, the fall of the Berlin wall, and more. After what many viewed as an inadequate on-air apology, Williams was suspended without pay until eventually being reinstated on MSNBC to serve as Chief Breaking News Anchor, which sounds all kinds of fancy, but in reality was a massive demotion. Given his missteps, it's kind of remarkable that he's still a newsman.

Rick Sanchez

In what was probably the easiest employee termination of all time, Rick Sanchez was fired from CNN the day after his infamous SiriusXM interview with Pete Dominick, during which he rolled out some heavy anti semitic remarks that were capable of killing any career, let alone one that relies on people's intrinsic belief of your objective journalistic integrity. 

ABC News transcribed Sanchez's remarks which included: "I'm telling you that everyone who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah...I can't see someone not getting a job these days because they're Jewish." 

CNN issued the terse statement: "Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company. We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well." Sanchez then took a hiatus before bouncing back on Fox News Latino, where he serves as a contributor. He sometimes appears on Fox News, which probably airs him behind a significant delay for editing purposes, just in case he decides to go all Infowars again.

Dan Rather

In 2004, 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes brought a story to then-CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather about documents suggesting President George W. Bush may have received preferential treatment regarding his service in the Texas Air National Guard. After what he felt was adequate vetting of the documents, including a verbal validation from one of the higher-ups in Bush's old chain of command, Rather took the story to air.

This all went down in the middle of Bush's reelection bid. The timing, coupled with the scandalous nature of the accusations, caused a massive uproar. Bloggers relentlessly scrutinized the documents and challenged every aspect of their authenticity. Key players recanted statements they made to Mapes' investigative team, and CBS News soon became a target for other major news outlets.

Since Rather was the face of the story, the blame ultimately landed in his lap, and pressure from the network forced an on-air apology. About two months after the apology, Rather announced his resignation from the anchor seat, although he claimed that his decision was "not influenced by the National Guard story."

"I have been lucky and blessed over these years to have what is, to me, the best job in the world and to have it at CBS News," Rather said during his resignation announcement. "Along the way, I've had the honor of working with some of the most talented, dedicated professionals in the world, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to continue doing so in the years ahead."

Lara Logan

Lara Logan wasn't an anchor, but she was a fast-rising reporter for 60 Minutes who definitely had her eye on the big network chairs. Her frontline reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan and uprisings pertaining to the Arab Spring put her on the map as a fearless and ambitious journalist who went to extremes to land a story.

After being victimized in a terrifying sexual assault in Tahrir Square–a story that came with its own round of controversy–Logan thought she landed a major scoop on the 2012 Benghazi attack. Relying heavily on the account of Dylan Davies, a security contractor who claimed to have been present when U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four other Americans were killed, Logan reported Davies' version of events on 60 Minutes. Unfortunately, Davies told a vastly different story to the FBI and others, which tainted his credibility.

Logan apologized on air and was subsequently asked to take "a leave of absence." After six months, she returned to 60 Minutes, but the stink of the Benghazi scandal continues to overshadow her reputation.

Keith Olbermann

Although no lone scandal disgraced Keith Olbermann, his blatantly unprofessional behavior has cost him jobs at ESPN, MSNBC, and Current TV, as well as the FOK News Channel, which sounds like a parody of Fox, but in reality was Olbermann's own blog and web series. FOK News Channel got swallowed up in his deal with Current TV, which went bye-bye when Olbermann supposedly flaked on half of his scheduled work days, according to Talking Points Memo

Current TV explained Olbermann's departure like this: "Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it."

As for his stints at MSNBC and ESPN, Olbermann was ousted from the former shortly after it was revealed that he failed to get approval for several political contributions, reported CNN. His departure from ESPN (which was actually his second time being employed by the sports broadcaster) was reported as "a business decision to move in another direction," but there were murmurs about heated contract disputes and the network's displeasure with Olbermann's commentary on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Ann Curry

As the story goes, Ann Curry was used as a pawn in a strategy to get Matt Lauer to resign his contract; she was offered the Today anchor seat in the hope that she would fail. Brian Stetler's book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV (via New York magazine,) details the alleged back door dealings. According to the book, Meredith Vieira's departure from Today along with Good Morning America's rise in ratings left both Lauer and Curry in a position to leverage juicy contracts. Lauer's deal was near its end, and Curry had a contract stipulation that ensured her a crack at the anchor seat after Viera, or she could go to another network. The only problem: Lauer allegedly couldn't stand Curry, so to keep Lauer happy, the network allegedly had to find a way to ditch Curry. Got all that?

Supposedly, network bosses and veteran crew members who also didn't favor Curry fostered an uncomfortable work environment, prompting her to leave the position voluntarily, thus appeasing Lauer in the process. Curry delivered a tearful exit speech from the Today show couch just two years after she took her place on it. 

We know what you're thinking: this sounds like a lot of cloak-and-dagger buggery for a show that later launched a segment where Carson Daly just peruses Twitter. Maybe Curry is the winner here?