James Murdoch: $32 Million O’Reilly Settlement ‘Was News to Me’

By Chris Ariens 

21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch said he didn’t know about the amount of Bill O’Reilly‘s sexual harassment settlement with former legal contributor Lis Wiehl until he saw it in the New York Times.

Murdoch participated in an event at the Paley Center this morning moderated by CNBC’s Julia Boorstin. Adweek’s Jason Lynch, who was at the event, reports:

Noting that O’Reilly, and not his former company, was behind the $32 million settlement, Murdoch said “that was news to me when we saw that number the other day.”

He said that in a company with thousands of people, “I can’t make sure that everyone in the business doesn’t behave badly at times, but what I can make sure is if we know something, we can react to that information, we can be decisive about it. As we were with Roger Ailes, as we were with Bill O’Reilly…it was a harassment complaint, and we ended his employment there. As we’ve had other executives in other parts of the business. So I think the issue becomes, how do you react to those things, and what do you know?”

The company has said it was aware there was a settlement with Wiehl, but signed O’Reilly to a lucrative longterm contract anyway. O’Reilly, who was the channel’s most-watched host for more than 15 years, was let go in April, a few months after he signed the new contract after what company chairman Rupert Murdoch called “a thorough and careful review of allegations against him.”