TV Celebs Who Blew Up Their Careers

The following article references sexual assault and harassment. 

One ill-advised on-air exchange can flip the switch and put an end to a lucrative television career in an instant. We have all seen TV personalities blow up their careers one way or another, and sometimes it seems like the drama surrounding the fallout brings in more eyeballs than the actual shows.

When TV stars are faced with serious accusations that put their jobs in jeopardy, their reactions can run the gamut, from flat-out denial to underwhelming apologies to behind-the-scenes desperation. While some manage to keep their gigs even in the wake of major controversy, others get cut from the roster — and the severing of ties is rarely quiet.

Suffice to say, there have been some major TV career casualties over the years, and a number of those casualties have been brought on by the stars themselves. And yes, we are about to dive headfirst into the mess. Trust us, this is not going to be pretty.

Chris Cuomo

Chris Cuomo was CNN's top anchor in 2021, after having spent nearly a decade with the network. The Yale grad and former ABC News legal correspondent certainly isn't lacking in pedigree. But it was his relationship with his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, that brought down the journalist's career.

After New York state's attorney general Letitia James found that the governor sexually harassed at least 11 women, he resigned in August 2021. According to The New York Times, Chris admitted he had offered his brother advice, even using his media contacts to find out information about the allegations and beyond. In December, CNN terminated Chris' contract. Charlotte Bennett, one of the individuals who came forward with accusations, said in a statement obtained by The Guardian, "Just like his older brother, Chris Cuomo used his time, network and resources to help smear victims, dig up opposition research, and belittle our credible allegations."

Chris Cuomo has also been accused of sexual misconduct. In September 2021, Shelley Ross alleged in The New York Times he groped her at a party when they worked together at ABC News; Chris told the outlet he "apologized" and maintained it "was not sexual in nature." In December 2021, attorney Debra Katz shared that she reached out to CNN just before Chris was fired to discuss "serious sexual misconduct" allegations made by her client, who elected to stay anonymous. In a statement obtained by The New York Times, he denied the allegations.

Megyn Kelly

In 2017, NBC ponied up a whopping $69 million to sign Megyn Kelly to a three-year deal, but as CNN noted, the woman who dreamed about being the next Oprah was hitting stumbling blocks right and left at NBC. Her primetime show fizzled out in the summer of 2017 and her 9 a.m. talk show was riddled with, as the outlet put it, "awkward moments and low ratings."

The nail in the coffin for the former Fox News star was a 2018 conversation about offensive Halloween costumes. Attempting to defend wearing blackface on an episode of "Megyn Kelly Today," the host said, "Back when I was a kid, that was okay, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character. ... I don't know how, like, that got racist on Halloween." 

The backlash was swift. On a subsequent episode of "Today," Craig Melvin called her comments "stupid" and "indefensible," and Al Roker said she "owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country." NBC proceeded to cancel "Megyn Kelly Today" and ended up paying her the remainder of her contract to sit it out. After all was settled, Kelly told TMZ, "You will definitely see me back on [television]." It seems the famed TV journalist is doing her talking lately behind a microphone instead of in front of a camera. According to The Hollywood Reporter, SiriusXM announced in late 2021 that she'd signed a deal to host a weekday radio program.

Chris Harrison

For nearly 20 years, Chris Harrison helped couples find true love on shows like "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." In 2021, something he said on "Extra" turned off fans and his Bachelor Nation colleagues to boot. And there was no way to charm his way out of it.

After a "The Bachelor" contestant's plantation party photos surfaced on social media, fellow Bachelor Nation star Rachel Lindsay spoke with Harrison about the fallout surrounding Rachael Kirkconnell. While he acknowledged the pictures and the party theme are bad, he wanted people to extend "a little compassion" toward her. Sticking up for the Season 25 winner, he asked, "Is it a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?" The following day, Harrison apologized on Instagram (via E! News) for "perpetuating racism." The day after that, members of Season 25's cast called out Harrison's remarks in a joint statement. And then, Harrison shared he would be taking a break from the franchise. After he announced he'd be taking time away, Harrison virtually sat down with Michael Strahan on "GMA." Following the interview, Strahan wondered if "The Bachelor" host's apology was nothing more than "a surface response." 

According to Variety, Harrison officially parted ways with the franchise in June of 2021. In a since-deleted Instagram post (via Variety), he wrote, "I've had a truly incredible run as host of 'The Bachelor' franchise and now I'm excited to start a new chapter."

Matt Lauer

When Matt Lauer first joined Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric on "Today," he felt like he had arrived. "The Today show was my dream job," he told Broadcasting & Cable in 2008 (via Us Weekly). Then, on November 29, 2017, his kingdom suddenly came crashing down. The former co-host of "Today" was fired after the network received a complaint of "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace."

In October 2019, Variety published an excerpt from Ronan Farrow's "Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators” by Ronan Farrow. In the book, former NBC News staffer Brooke Nevils alleged Lauer sexually assaulted her in 2014. Nevils told Farrow she was "too drunk to consent" and she did not want to have intercourse. Lauer, who was also accused of sexting former NBC staffers and interns, has maintained he "never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex." After Variety's story went out, "Today" co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb stated on air that they were "disturbed" by the allegations. In "Going There," Katie Couric writes that she was "blindsided" by the stories, stunned that the "beloved TV star had such a dark side."

Since his termination, Lauer has kept pretty much to himself. "He only wants to talk to people who are gonna take his side," a source told People in 2021. "He still feels like he got railroaded."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Bill O'Reilly

Conservative firebrand Bill O'Reilly was one of the most popular commentators in the history of Fox News. His penchant for on-air fireworks kept viewers glued to their sets for 20 years, but in 2017 the tension going on behind the scenes took center stage. On April 1, 2017, The New York Times reported O'Reilly and Fox had paid $13 million to settle five cases involving sexual or other harassment allegations against him.

O'Reilly had a reputation for firing off unfiltered, insensitive comments without consequence, and as The Atlantic pointed out, it all added up to "a pattern of behavior" that the network called "offensive” and more than 50 advertisers canceled their campaigns.

According to Reuters, Fox News announced they'd given O'Reilly his walking papers on April 19, 2017. "The O'Reilly Factor" host, who maintains he did nothing wrong, said in a statement, "It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today." Since his time at Fox News, O'Reilly has stayed busy with publishing a number of books. He also hosts "No Spin News," available on his website for a monthly subscription fee.

Brian Williams

In 2015, Brian Williams held one of the most coveted slots in network news, anchoring "NBC Nightly News." Following his 2015 Stars and Stripes interview, accusations mounted that Williams lied about coming under fire while reporting on the war in Iraq. He was suspended pending the results of an investigation, and according to the AP, NBC chief executive Steve Burke called Williams' actions "were inexcusable and jeopardized the trust he has built up with viewers during his decade as the network's lead anchor."  

In the end, more "inaccurate statements" were uncovered, including his claims that he was in Baghdad with the Navy SEALs who killed Bin Laden. Soon the most watched newsman in America had lost the most essential quality for any journalist: his credibility. As CNN reported at the time, Williams was yanked from the anchor desk at NBC and delegated to a lesser role at MSNBC. 

Per USA Today, he addressed his misstep in an interview with Matt Lauer. "This came from a bad place, a bad urge inside me. This was clearly ego driven, a desire to better my role in a story I was already in," he said. "I told stories that were wrong. ... And I own up to this." In 2021, Williams signed off from "The 11th Hour" on MSNBC. As he wrapped up the unceremonious end to what could have been a celebrated career, he said, "I'll show myself out."

Dan Rather

One of the most revered journalists in American history, Dan Rather's career hit a serious speed bump in 2004. As recounted by People, Rather ran a story that challenged President George W. Bush's service in Vietnam. After the story aired, questions arose about the accuracy of the reporting — namely, whether or not the source documents were legitimate. This stirred up a firestorm of backlash from conservative critics. Rather stepped away from the "CBS Evening News" anchor desk in 2005 and left the network for good in 2006 after 44 years. 

In his book "Rather Outspoken," the veteran newsman recalled feeling "all but invisible" at CBS during that time. "By this time it was clear to everyone but me that I was being erased," he wrote. As CNN reported, Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS in 2007 for breach of contract, claiming the network "warehoused” him. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2009. "They wanted to offer me what many people would consider good money and an assistant to come and sit at a desk. I didn't consider it for a second," Rather said in People in 2006.

Despite the way it all ended, Rather told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, "I was really lucky to work at CBS News. I'm very proud of the career I had." He also stands by the contentious report.

Charlie Rose

Former "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose had an impeccable resume. The lifelong journalist who gained national attention at PBS honed his craft for more than 45 years, but his reputation was turned upside down in 2017 when The Washington Post revealed shocking allegations of sexual misconduct against the seemingly mild-mannered newsman.

Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, one of Rose's named accusers who also worked for him, told The Hollywood Reporter, "Charlie's entire life was defined by who he was as a journalist...[but] Charlie used his power, at times, to assault many women who worked for him." The allegations included groping at a staff party, initiating unwanted sexual advances, and walking around naked in front of colleagues who were required to work at one of his New York homes. According to ET, former co-host Gayle King said on-air she was sick to her stomach when she heard the news, adding "you can't discount what these women are saying." 

Rose released a statement about the allegations on Twitter, acknowledging that he "behaved insensitively at times" while also casting doubt on some of the accusations. "I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior," he wrote. "I am greatly embarrassed."

After the story broke with eight accusers' complaints, nine more came forward. At that point, Bloomberg Television, PBS, and CBS News all ended their contracts with Rose. In 2018, The Washington Post reported that 27 more women came forward with sexual harassment accusations. Rose claimed the report was "unfair and inaccurate."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Rick Sanchez

Rick Sanchez was a rising star at CNN... until he wasn't. After Sanchez called "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart "a bigot" and made some anti-Semitic comments on Pete Dominick's SiriusXM show in 2010, his time at the network was a thing of the past.

According to ABC News, Sanchez said, "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." He added, "I can't see someone not getting a job these days because they're Jewish." The next day, CNN announced his termination. Per Deadline, Sanchez then apologized for his "tired and mangled words" in a statement. Since losing his CNN job, Sanchez has landed gigs on radio shows and Fox News.

As The Hollywood Reporter noted at the time, Stewart had a good laugh at Sanchez's expense following the chat with Dominick. On his show, the Comedy Central host joked, "Omigod!" Rick Sanchez knows my name!" 

Billy Bush

In 2016, Billy Bush was let go from the NBC morning show after a little more than a year on the job. The former "Access Hollywood" host was removed as a "Today" co-host when a raunchy conversation he had with presidential nominee Donald Trump was leaked. On the tape, which was released by The Washington Post, the former president can be heard talking to Bush about how easy it is for him to grope women without their consent "when you're a star." Bush seems to get a kick out of these remarks, laughing along and stoking the flame.  

As to who leaked that tape and why, there was a lot of finger pointing, but no answers. Certainly, it was a political hot potato for the Trumps. Melania Trump told CNN that Bush "led on" her husband "to say dirty and bad stuff." 

In a 2019 interview with People, Bush said he regrets his actions. "It was a bad moment," he told the outlet. "And I was in it. But one moment doesn't define your life." That is definitely true for Billy Bush, who landed a new gig that year as the host of "Extra."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Sharon Osbourne

A heated on-air debate about Piers Morgan and Meghan Markle on "The Talk" proved to be co-host Sharon Osbourne's undoing. While defending Morgan on a 2021 episode of the daily chat show, Osbourne made some remarks that did not sit well with some viewers or her colleagues. After her willingness to stand by Morgan was called into question, the former reality show star said, "I very much feel like I'm about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend, who many people think is a racist, so that makes me a racist?" 

Following the segment, former co-hosts spoke out. In an interview with Yashar Ali, Leah Remini claimed Osbourne made racist comments against Julie Chen and homophobic comments about moderator Sara Gilbert. Holly Robinson Peete took to Twitter with her beef. "Sharon complained that I was too 'ghetto' for #theTalk...then I was gone," she wrote. Regarding the conversation about Morgan, Osbourne told ET that she felt as though she'd been "set up" by the network.

As The Hollywood Reporter noted at the time, Osbourne's time on the series ended after CBS conducted an internal investigation. As part of the review, the network concluded, "Sharon's behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace."

Paula Deen

It was a recipe for disaster. Not even Paula Deen, the Queen of Southern Cuisine, could whip up an easy fix for this. According to Radar, Deen and her brother/business partner Bubba Hiers were slapped with a $1.2 million lawsuit in 2012. The suit alleged one of their restaurants created a "hostile work environment" that included sexual harassment and racial epithets. The lawsuit also claimed Deen made Black employees use a separate entrance in the back of the restaurant. 

Per People, Deen quickly issued a public apology, begging her fans for forgiveness, but she couldn't save her deal with Food Network, which was not renewed in 2013. The successful cookbook author, entrepreneur, and television personality has tried to restore her public image ever since. 

That said, she has not struggled with finding gigs. Deen has gone on to appear on "Dancing With the Stars," "Celebrity Family Feud," and "MasterChef: Legends," where some fans of the show were not so happy to see her. One viewer wrote on Reddit, "Seeing her face is literally making me cringe this whole episode ugh." Another Redditor agreed, writing, "I'm watching this episode right now and ew." Deen continues to produce her signature cooking segments on YouTube.

Kimberly Guilfoyle

In July 2018, Kimberly Guilfoyle announced she would be leaving Fox News to lead a Donald Trump super PAC. However, as HuffPost reported at the time, that's not the whole story. The host of "The Five" was facing allegations of workplace sexual misconduct. The outlet's sources alleged her "behavior included showing personal photographs of male genitalia to colleagues (and identifying whose genitals they were), regularly discussing sexual matters at work and engaging in emotionally abusive behavior toward hair and makeup artists and support staff."

According to the New Yorker, Fox News allegedly paid an assistant who came forward with grievances up to $4 million to keep the case out of court. After an internal investigation turned up more accusations of inappropriate behavior against Guilfoyle, Fox pushed her out. Guilfoyle has stated she "never engaged in any workplace misconduct of any kind."

Since parting ways with Fox News, she hasn't exactly stayed out of headlines. For starters, you may remember Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancee's animated speech at the RNC. And according to a November 2021 Propublica report, Guilfoyle allegedly texted a GOP party member on January 4, 2021, stating she raised $3 million to fund the rally that helped fuel the January 6 Capitol riot. Guilfoyle's attorney denied that his client raised money for this event.

Gretchen Carlson

Finally, we have a TV star who lost her job because she bravely spoke up. Former "Fox & Friends” host Gretchen Carlson spent years biting her tongue while tolerating inappropriate comments from her boss, but she had a plan, according to Time. In 2016, after secretly recording conversations she had with Fox News head Roger Ailes, Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. In one exchange, Ailes said, "I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better." Carlson's allegations sparked an internal investigation, and more than 20 women, including Megyn Kelly, came forward to take him down.

Carlson was fired (officially for low ratings) before all was said and done, per the Daily Beast. Fox gave her a $20 million settlement to go away quietly, which means she is permanently silenced by her non-disclosure agreement. This story was given the Hollywood treatment in the movie "Bombshell" and in the Showtime series "The Loudest Voice," but Carlson still can't say a word.

Carlson now hosts a daily news podcast and co-founded Lift Our Voices, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the silencing of harassment victims through forced arbitration and NDAs. "I'm working now to change the landscape of the American workplace for all women so that they don't have to be silenced," she told People.