Dismissal correct, but came too late

Fox News made the right decision in giving Bill O’Reilly the boot. However, the timing was all wrong.

It’s not just a matter of the action being overdue. The timetable shows it was done for the wrong reason.

The move came after more than 50 advertisers dropped “The O’Reilly Factor” after news reports revealed the network and its star commentator had paid $13 million to five women to settle claims of abusive behavior.

It seems a string of such claims followed by millions of dollars in payouts weren’t enough to get him ousted. But then, “The O’Reilly Factor” generated hundreds of millions in ad revenue for the network.

Until this week. When O’Reilly stopped being a cash cow, Fox opted to cease milking him for hundreds of times his cost.

Who knows, maybe Fox has the same kind of bean counters who decide when the cost of repairing automobiles exceeds the cost of settlements for wrongful deaths and injuries, it’s cheaper to pay off possible lawsuits rather than redesign parts and recall vehicles.

It’s also possible the corporate culture under Roger Ailes — founder and former chairman and CEO of Fox who quit last July following allegations he had sexually harassed female colleagues — allowed such behavior to fester.

Regardless, O’Reilly — who had the top-rated show on the No. 1 network — will be a tough act to follow. For multiple reasons.