Howard Kurtz Says the O’Reilly Story Is ‘A Significant Setback For Fox’

By A.J. Katz 

Fox News’s Howard Kurtz was quite candid on his program this past weekend when offering his thoughts on the epic New York Times story on former FNC analyst Lis Wiehl‘s $32 million sexual harassment settlement with Bill O’Reilly.

“21st Century Fox has been trying to move on from this mess––hiring a bunch of new female executives and on-air hosts, among other steps,” Kurtz said during MediaBuzz. “But this is a significant setback for Fox. There’s no question about it, it’s embarrassing, it’s disappointing that O’Reilly was given a new contract under these circumstances.”

Kurtz discussed the story with Hollywood Reporter editorial director Matthew Belloni, and said “if these allegations are crap, why spend $32 million to settle them?” He remarked that there will be some very serious questions for Fox News on this matter as well.

As Kurtz mentioned, the network has been making a concerted effort to provide women with higher-profile roles at the network. In fact, Fox News now has more female weekday hosts than any other cable news network.

Martha MacCallum has hosted the network’s 7 p.m. hour since January. Harris Faulkner and Dana Perino began hosting the 1 and 2 p.m hours, respectively, last month. The network recently hired conservative commentator Laura Ingraham to host her own prime time show at 10 p.m., and Shannon Bream will host the 11 p.m. hour. Both shows debut next Monday.

“I hope it doesn’t impede the progress that the company has been trying to make, which––in the end, the company did fire its biggest moneymakers,” Kurtz said.