In a tense Today Show interview, a defiant Bill O’Reilly told NBC’s Matt Lauer the sexual harassment claims filed against him when he was hosting The O’Reilly Factor were a “political and financial hit job” and that he’s innocent.
“I can go to sleep at night very well, knowing [I] never mistreated anyone on my watch in 42 years,” O’Reilly said. That’s a pretty ballsy thing for him to say considering he likened Rep. Maxine Waters’ hair to a James Brown wig, compared the LGBT community to Al-Qaeda, and he even laughed when a man was violently removed from a United Airlines airplane. And who can forget that time he lost his temper and had an on-camera meltdown?
O’Reilly repeatedly tried to downplay allegations of sexual harassment made against him, insisting he is innocent; and he described his firing as a result of an advertiser boycott that “unsettled some people at Fox News.”
Last April, the New York Times reported that Fox and O’Reilly paid out a total of $13 million dollars to five women who alleged sexual harassment in exchange for their silence.
Following that Times report, 77 advertisers dropped their ads, and O’Reilly was let go.
Lauer pressed O’Reilly to talk about the allegations and even went so far as to ask him if he sent lewd messages to Fox colleagues and if he’d ever had a human-resources case brought against him. O’Reilly denied everything and said his firing was a business decision; and he implied it was about a 21st Century Fox pending acquisition of Sky News in the UK.
Lauer pushed: “You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire, because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on — you carried that network on your shoulders for a lot of years. So doesn’t it seem safe to assume that the people at Fox News were given a piece of information, or given some evidence, that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News?”
O’Reilly argued that was a “false assumption,” and added, “There were a lot of other business things in play at that time and still today that 21st Century was involved with. And it was a business decision that they made. But there isn’t any smoking gun.”
“But you don’t let your No. 1 guy go unless you have information that you think makes him…” Lauer said.
“Sure you do,” O’Reilly answered. “That’s not true. There are billions of dollars at stake in business deals, and they made a business decision that they could possibly prosper more without me.”
Lauer asked O’Reilly why he didn’t take legal action against the people who accused him of harassment. “Because you can’t win those lawsuits,” the former Fox News host replied. “If you’re a public figure, you cannot win them. And I could do that, but the collateral damage of these lawsuits, the press frenzy, every allegation is a conviction.”
Poor, poor pitiful Bill.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 19, 2017