The Real Reason These News Personalities Left Fox News

Bankrolled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and built by former Republican strategist Roger AilesFox News took less than two decades to go from being a fledgling startup network in 1996 to one of the most influential and controversial news organizations. Although the network boasted a "fair and balanced" motto until 2017, Fox News has been accused of having a decidedly conservative slant. "The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party," former President Barack Obama's White House communications director Anita Dunn once famously said in 2009.

But love them or hate them, the cable news behemoth is here to stay. However, much like any major news outlet, it has weathered its share of controversies and internal conflict that's ripe for both true investigative journalism and tabloid fodder, some of which has resulted in the unceremonious exit of their most famous faces. From serious allegations to cancellations, here's the real reason why these news personalities left Fox News.

Stacey Dash couldn't keep the profanity in check

One of the biggest surprises of the 2010s was learning that Dionne Davenport from Clueless was a conservative. We didn't see that coming. After voting for Barack Obama in 2008, Stacey Dash endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 to much criticism. She turned that into a Fox News gig two years later, where she was hired to offer "cultural analysis and commentary" across the channel's bevy of shows.

And boy, did she. By 2015, she was suspended by the network alongside commentator Ralph Peters for using profanities in criticizing Obama. According to CNNPeters called the then-Commander In Chief a "total pu**y" who "doesn't want to hurt our enemies." Dash pushed that even further, claiming Obama "didn't give a s**t" about terrorism. Yikes.

Fox senior executive vice president Bill Shine called their comments "completely inappropriate and unacceptable" in a statement," and took the pair off the air for two weeks. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network declined to renew Dash's contract in 2016.

A scandalized Bill O'Reilly 'agreed' to leave

Bill O'Reilly, the former indisputable king of Fox News, would have continued his reign as the top-rated cable news host if it weren't for an April 2017 article in The New York Times that revealed that, combined, both he and the network had shelled out "about $13 million" in sexual harassment settlements related to accusations made by multiple women against the controversial anchor. 

According to the report, all of the women "complained about a wide range of behavior." In those complaints, a specific pattern emerged. "Mr. O'Reilly would create a bond with some women by offering advice and promising to help them professionally," the publication claimed. "He then would pursue sexual relationships with them, causing some to fear that if they rebuffed him, their careers would stall."

Just over two weeks later after the NYT exposé, O'Reilly was gone from the network on the heels of a rather dubious joint 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." Despite bilateral nature of the statement, many outlets claimed O'Reilly was fired, most notably The New York Times who reported that he was "forced out at Fox News."

Was Kimberly Guilfoyle the victim of a 'hostile whisper campaign?'

On Jul. 20, 2018, Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman first broke the news that The Five co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle would be leaving the network. That same day, HuffPost reported that sources claimed the former prosecuting attorney "did not leave the cable news network voluntarily." Fox News didn't exactly clear things up with their decidedly terse statement on the matter (via the Daily Beast), which was: Fox News has parted ways with Kimberly Guilfoyle.

So what exactly happened? Well, a lot — supposedly. According to HuffPost, Guilfoyle was forced out after an investigation into allegations of misconduct. Six separate sources told the publication that she showed people explicit "personal photographs" of "colleagues," discussed "sexual matters" during work hours, and was "emotionally abusive" to her "hair and makeup artists and "support staff." Guilfoyle's lawyer John Singer pushed back hard on this narrative in a statement that described the accusations as "unequivocally baseless," and "utterly preposterous" exaggerations made by "those who are nefariously and greedily twisting innocent conversations amongst close friends into much more than what it actually was for financial gain."

As of this writing, it's still unclear exactly why Guilfoyle exited the network, however, the Daily Beast seemed to concur with Singer, claiming Fox News staffers allegedly waged "a covert war" and engaged in a "hostile whisper campaign" against the former their former co-worker by inflating the details of the stories. 

Bob Beckel didn't keep the racism to himself

Bob Beckel, a former campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale, was dropped as co-host of The Five in 2017 over a "racist comment," according to Variety. In its statement, Fox News used milder terminology: "Bob Beckel was terminated today for making an insensitive remark to an African-American employee."

According to a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the network, Beckel allegedly "stormed out of his office" when an IT staffer was called to service his computer because the employee was black. Fox News then reportedly tried to get the employee to withdraw his HR complaint, according to his lawyer. The network pushed back on those claims, saying the investigation began "7 minutes" after the complaint was received, and no attempted persuasion occurred.

This wasn't the first time the political analyst from let go from the network, however. Back in 2015, he was fired after missing extended time due to back surgery. "We tried to work with Bob for months, but we couldn't hold The Five hostage to one man's personal issues," Shine said in a statement (via Politico). "He took tremendous advantage of our generosity, empathy and goodwill and we simply came to the end of the road with him."

"I just can't understand the anger in Fox statement," Beckel tweeted in response to his 2015 sacking. "I was healing from major back surgery I could not walk, I took no advantage I got well."

Carl Cameron wasn't buying the 'fair and balanced' line anymore

Carl Cameron spent over 20 years as a political correspondent for Fox News. One of the network's first hires and dubbed "Campaign Carl" for his constant presence on presidential campaign trails, Cameron left the network after the election of Donald Trump. "I was just toast," Cameron told CNN. "And frankly while the news division at Fox News channel has always worked to be truly fair and balanced and to be accurate, the opinion hosts in prime-time and elsewhere on Fox had become more than I could stand."

In 2019, the veteran reporter launched the progressive website Front Page Live. In his introductory video for the site, Cameron further explained his decision to leave his former employer. "I was one of Fox's first hires. The idea of fair and balanced news appealed to me," he said. "But over the years, the right-wing hosts drowned out straight journalism with partisan misinformation. I left." He explained that his time at Fox News gives him "unique insight and understanding of how the right operates." 

He called the spread of misinformation a "state of emergency" and hopes to use his new platform to inform voters before the 2020 election accurately. "Make your own decisions," he explained. "Just please be accurately informed."

Eric Bolling and the case of unsolicited photos

In August 2017, HuffPost reported that longtime Fox News host Eric Bolling allegedly texted unsolicited explicit photos to at least three female colleagues. Some of the fourteen sources, who spoke to the publication under the condition of anonymity, claimed to have seen the photos.

The network immediately launched an investigation, while Bolling, through his attorney Michael J. Bowe, denied the accusations. "Mr. Bolling recalls no such inappropriate communications, does not believe he sent any such communications, and will vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made," Bowe said in a statement.

The following month, the internal investigation was completed and Bolling was out. In a strikingly similar statement to the one announcing Bill O'Reilly's departure, the network said (via Variety), "Fox News Channel is canceling The Specialists, and Eric Bolling and Fox have agreed to part ways amicably. We thank Eric for his ten years of service to our loyal viewers and wish him the best of luck."

Megyn Kelly no longer wanted to be part of the 'snake pit'

After twelve years at Fox News, journalist and news anchor Megyn Kelly called it quits in 2017. While there wasn't one specific thing that lead to her decision, the former corporate defense attorney has been open about her reasons for leaving the network.

"Donald Trump has a way of clarifying one's life choices," she told Ellen in 2017. "Just as I was sort of wondering whether this was where I wanted to be and how I wanted to live, the universe came and, sort of shone a light, and it was clear to me what I wanted to do." She called "cable news primetime" a hyperpartisan "snake pit" in recent years, and she no longer wanted to be a part of that. "I didn't want to be in the snake pit," she explained. "I just wanted to cover the news."

Another alleged reason for Kelly's departure was Bill O'Reilly, according to The New York Times. After slamming Kelly's memoir, which detailed her claim of "being sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, [Fox]'s former chairman," O'Reilly doubled-down on the sentiment — on the air, no less — by telling other women who were coming forward with sexual harassment claims against the network to "go to human resources or leave." Kelly reportedly complained about O'Reilly's commentary to Fox higher-ups to no avail, and according to sources who spoke with The Times, this "was a factor in Ms. Kelly's decision to leave Fox News."

Elisabeth Hasselbeck found her true calling ... in Nashville

After 10 years on The View, conservative television personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck found a new home on Fox & Friends in 2013Although the move seemed to be a match made in heaven, Hasselbeck's time with the network lasted a mere two years. In Nov. 2015, the talk show host announced her departure from Fox News in a statement (via The Hollywood Reporter), saying her decision was "the right one" for herself and her family.

The next day, an emotional Hasselbeck confirmed her exit during an episode of saying she was leaving to take a "new position as CBO, Chief Breakfast Officer" (via THR). Fighting back tears, Hasselbeck continued, "Outside of today and my last day, I will declare the time a no-cry zone, but I will permit emotion to run where it is permitted to run."

Hasselbeck eventually moved to Nashville, Tenn. where she now serves as co-host of the annual K-LOVE Christian music awards show in Music City alongside 80s sitcom star, Kirk Cameron. "It feels like a soulmate city to me here. Yes, there's great food and music in Nashville, but there's permission to be who you are and to put others first," she told Tennessean in 2019.

Was Shepard Smith simply over it?

In one of the most unexpected exits from Fox News, veteran journalist Shepard Smith shocked the media world when he announced his decision to leave the network. "Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News," he said during his on-air announcement. "After requesting that I stay, they obliged." He also said that he wouldn't be "reporting elsewhere — at least in the near future," per his "agreement" with the network, so it's unclear, as of this writing, where Smith will land next. 

Known for his outspoken criticism of Donald Trump, thereby becoming a favorite target of the president, Smith reportedly clashed with fellow network personalities Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. According to sources who spoke with the Daily Beast, Smith got "sick of being attacked by his primetime colleagues" and asked to be released from his contract. However, the writing was already on the wall for Fox News in the form of Smith's comments during an interview with Time in 2018. "And I wonder, if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted?" he told the outlet. "I don't know." It appears we're about to find out.

Andy Levy was canceled, but kept talking

After spending ten years on Fox News' Red Eye, the show he co-founded, political commentator and humorist Andy Levy left the network after the show's cancellation in 2017. During an appearance on the Fox News radio show Kilmeade & Friends, Levy said the decision was "surprisingly tough," but admitted the "weird show" was "living with the threat of cancellation" from the first episode.

Later that year, however, Levy had harsh words for his former employer during an appearance on HLN's S.E. Cupp UnfilteredAs a member of a panel discussing Trump's praise of his favorite network, Levy said Fox News "should be the most embarrassed" by the perceived notion that they are decidedly pro-Trump. "The press is not supposed to be on the side of people in power ever," he explained. "The press is supposed to be adversarial, the press is supposed to question, the press is not supposed to curry favor with authority."

Levy went on to say that a president should never expect favorable media coverage, but Fox News has "backed themselves into this corner." He continued, "they're the Trump News Network and that's their lifeblood." Ouch.