A New York Times investigation reveals five women have received payouts totalling about $13 million to settle harassment claims against Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. The settlements came from either O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations. The New York Times reports:
Two settlements came after the network’s former chairman, Roger Ailes, was dismissed last summer in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, when the company said it did not tolerate behavior that “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.” The women who made allegations against Mr. O’Reilly either worked for him or appeared on his show. They have complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating, according to documents and interviews.
21st Century Fox says that while O’Reilly “denies the merits” of the claims, he “has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility.”
21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously. Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.
O’Reilly is not only Fox’s biggest star, his share of the cable news audience is growing. In the first three months of 2017, Fox News was the most-watched cable channel, and O’Reilly set personal cable ratings records.
The O’Reilly Factor host has begun scaling back his TV workload, regularly taking Fridays off. In an interview with Adweek last year, O’Reilly wasn’t sure how much longer he would be hosting his show. “I go day to day,” he told us. “I don’t want to work this hard much longer, I know that. Because I work hard. I earn my money. But the shocking thing to me is nobody beats me. These young gunslingers, they should be kind of beating me—but they’re not.”
O’Reilly has also responded to the accusations on his website.
Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.
But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.
The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.