Shouldn’t be a surprise that Faux New’s pack of howling racists is also a bun of sexual harassing rapists. A pack of liars and sexual molesters.
A blockbuster new report by The New York Times reveals further details in Fox News’s decades-long internal battle with harassment allegations. The network’s longstanding C.E.O. Roger Ailes resigned in July amid a storm of sexual harassment accusations and lawsuits. Executives at Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, offered assurances that such behavior would no longer be tolerated. (Ailes has vociferously denied all accusations of impropriety.)
But now, a New York Times investigation reveals that Fox News and anchor Bill O’Reilly have spent about $13 million in settlements to female employees who have accused O’Reilly of lewd or otherwise abusive behavior toward them.
According to the Times, three more accusers have been identified since the publication reported on the accusations of two other women in January. Of these women, two of these cases involve claims of sexual harassment on O’Reilly’s part. The third is an accusation of verbal abuse during an outburst in which O’Reilly “berated a young producer in front of newsroom colleagues.”
From the Times:
The women who made allegations against Mr. O’Reilly either worked for him or appeared on his show. They have complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded like Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating, according to documents and interviews.
The reporting suggests a pattern: As an influential figure in the newsroom, Mr. O’Reilly would create a bond with some women by offering advice and promising to help them professionally. He then would pursue sexual relationships with them, causing some to fear that if they rebuffed him, their careers would stall.
21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, released a statement defending the payouts and noting that none of these women had used the company hotline to accuse a senior employee of the company. The statement confirms that the company has spoken with O’Reilly about the cases.
“21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously,” the statement said. “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.”
With the departure of Megyn Kelly, who decamped to NBC after joining the chorus of Ailes accusers, O’Reilly is Fox News’s biggest star. The Times cited an advertising research firm’s estimated earnings for The O’Reilly Factor: $446 million between 2014 and 2016. He is paid, according to the Times, approximately $18 million a year.
In a statement, O’Reilly suggested accusations of this nature are the price he pays for being a high-profile firebrand.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” O’Reilly said. “In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline. But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”
This is an especially sensitive time for the network, as Fox News is still dealing with the fallout coming after Ailes’ departure. The company is currently under investigation by the office of the United States attorney in the Southern District of New York. (The investigation is heading toward a grand jury without Preet Bharara, who led the office until a dramatic firing in early March.)
Greta Van Susteren, who was a longtime Fox News colleague of O’Reilly before joining MSNBC, tweeted Saturday morning that a situation like this arises from a company wanting to hide that they’d “looked the other way.”
Wendy Walsh, one of the accusers and a frequent guest of O’Reilly’s show, said that the acerbic host withdrew a verbal offer to get her a high position at the network in 2013 after she turned down an invitation to his hotel suite. She told the Times she did not lodge a complaint with Fox News because she wanted to avoid damaging her future career prospects. According to Walsh, he’d invited her to dinner, promised her a contributor position, and then invited her up to his hotel room. When she declined and suggested they go to the hotel bar instead, he became hostile, told her to forget about his offer, and also called her purse ugly.
“I feel bad that some of these old guys are using mating strategies that were acceptable in the 1950s and are not acceptable now,” Walsh said. “I hope young men can learn from this.”
Fox News declined further comment when reached by the Hive, instead pointing to existing statements by O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox.