Fox News has paid out millions to women over the years to settle claims about Bill O’Reilly, claims he denies have merit.
Fox News’ controversial host, Bill O’Reilly, is getting nothing but support from the conservative news network, despite a number of sexual harassment allegations and payouts to victims.
The New York Times revealed Saturday evening that O’Reilly has paid out a total of $13 million to several women who have issued formal complaints of harassment.
O’Reilly is one of Fox’s lead draws, pulling in billions of dollars in revenue for its parent company, 21st Century Fox, and the company has stood behind O’Reilly throughout the number of these complaints as well as complaints of other inappropriate behavior.
According to The Wall Street Journal, O’Reilly denies any wrongdoing and states that his career in television makes him a “target,” even though he personally paid out $10 million to settle some of the claims. The rest were paid by Fox News.
The NYT discovered a total of five women who have received payoffs from either the company or O’Reilly himself in exchange for canceling lawsuits and remaining mum about his behavior.
Two of the settlements occurred right after Roger Ailes, the network’s former head, was terminated last year in the middle of a number of harassment complaints. At the time Ailes was removed, the company said that it did not tolerate action that: “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.”
Allegations against O’Reilly were made by women who worked for him or were guests on his Fox News show. Complaints included allegations of verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted sexual advances, and obscene phone calls.
According to the NYT, O’Reilly had a pattern of abuse: he would offer advice and mentoring to women to help with their professional careers, and then pursue them, leaving them feeling that if they didn’t comply, they’d suffer the consequences in their professional lives.
Two of the settlements reached the public sphere: one in 2004 for about $9 million and another last year with Fox employee Juliet Huddy. Huddy complained that O’Reilly made unwanted advances and made obscene phone calls to her number, sometimes sounding like he was m*sturbating on the other end of the line.
Three new settlements have just come to light, one for verbal abuse, and two for sexual harassment claims against the Fox New host.
Two other women have filed complaints but have not reached a settlement. Wendy Walsh, a former regular guest on O’Reilly’s show, says O’Reilly reneged on offers to get her a position at the network after she declined his advances. Another former Fox News host, Andrea Tantaros, filed a lawsuit for harassment against O’Reilly, the network, and Ailes last year.
Parent company 21st Century Fox acknowledged the settlements, but would not discuss specific allegations against O’Reilly. A written statement sent to the NYT states:
“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.”
Variety reports that O’Reilly is one of the highest paid TV personalities, being paid $18 million per year on his current contract, which is set to expire at the end of 2017. His show, The O’Reilly Factor, garners a larger audience than any other in cable news show in prime time ratings.