Bill O’Reilly has been the most recognizable name at Fox News for two decades. Now, we’ve learned that he – along with Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox – has paid $13 million to settle 5 separate sexual harassment complaints.
As Business Insider reports, the money went to on-air talent of The O’Reilly Factor. The show has been a financial and ratings success. In a statement, 21st Century Fox announced they take “workplace behavior very seriously.”
The Times uncovered settlements totaling $13 million that were paid out to five women, in exchange for the women agreeing not to file lawsuits against O’Reilly or speak about their accusations.
Of the five settlements, three were paid out by Fox News and two were paid by O’Reilly. Two had also already been reported on in the media: one involved $9 million paid in 2004 to a producer, and the other was agreed on last year with a former on-air personality, which The Times reported on.
The other three settlements include sexual harassment claims and allegations of verbal abuse which involve O’Reilly allegedly criticizing a producer in front of colleagues.
In addition to the women who received settlements, two others have also accused O’Reilly of inappropriate behavior. Wendy Walsh, a regular guest on The O’Reilly Factor, was offered a paid contributor position at the network. After she refused an invitation to go to O’Reilly’s hotel suite in 2013, he did not follow through on securing her a job at Fox News, according to The Times.
“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.”
On his personal website, Bill O’Reilly published his own statement, making it clear that he denies the allegations:
Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. 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.
The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.
It’s clear that The O’Reilly Factor has generated many hundreds of millions of ad revenue, so perhaps these settlements are easy for O’Reilly to personally afford, along with his company. But Fox News has dealt with these kinds of accusations before, and this new report raises more questions about America’s most popular cable news network.
What do you think about Bill O’Reilly and his company paying millions to settle harassment accusations? Please leave us a comment (below) and tell us.