Fox Extended Bill O’Reilly’s Contract After He Agreed to a $32 Million Sexual Harassment Settlement

By A.J. Katz 

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The Bill O’Reilly saga isn’t going anywhere. If anything, the news seems to be getting uglier.

The New York Times broke news earlier today that 21st Century Fox extended Bill O’Reilly’s contract to remain at Fox News a month after he had settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for a whopping $32 million.

21st Century Fox confirmed in a statement that it knew about the harassment complaints made against O’Reilly by a longtime Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl, but says O’Reilly told them he had settled the matter personally, “on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company.”

21st Century Fox and O’Reilly reached a four-year contract extension worth $25 million in February 2017. This $32 million sexual harassment settlement was paid out in January 2017.

This is the sixth harassment settlement agreed to by O’Reilly that has been reported so far, and it’s easily the most expensive.

According to the Times, this particular suit “included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, according to the people briefed on the matter.”

21st Century Fox provided TVNewser with the following statement:

“When the company renewed Bill O’Reilly’s contract in February, it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Lis Wiehl, but was informed by Mr. O’Reilly that he had settled the matter personally, on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company.  His new contract, which was made at a time typical for renewals of multi-year talent contracts, added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment, including that Mr. O’Reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation.  The company subsequently acted based on the terms of this contract.”

“21st Century Fox has taken concerted action to transform Fox News, including installing new leaders, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination. These changes come from the top, with Lachlan and James Murdoch personally leading the effort to promote civility and respect on the job, while maintaining the Company’s long-held commitment to a diverse, inclusive and creative workplace.”

21st Century Fox and Fox News cut ties with O’Reilly following the NYT report from April stating that O’Reilly and Fox News paid $13 million to 5 women who accused the star of harassment. The original report resulted in a mass advertiser boycott and spurred two public protests outside Fox News headquarters.