Fox kept O'Reilly despite harassment suit

Posted October 25, 2017

Bill O'Reilly reportedly settled a sexual harassment suit for $32 million earlier this year, months before he was sacked by Fox News.

A representative for O'Reilly told the New York Times that once Fox News received a sworn affidavit from Wiehl "renouncing all allegations against him", it offered him "a recording breaking contract".

21st Century Fox said in a statement to the New York Times that O'Reilly's settlement with Lis Wiehl, a former legal analyst at Fox News, was a personal matter between the two, and said O'Reilly "was the biggest star in cable TV". According to the Times, O'Reilly is accused of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship, and the transmission of sexually explicit material, including gay porn, to Wiehl.

Given the attention that Fox News hosts have paid to the Weinstein story, it will be interesting to see whether O'Reilly's massive settlement receives much, or any, coverage from the network's primetime opinionators and moralists.

O'Reilly wrapped up the allegations this January in a quick 15 days from when the lawsuit was drafted.

As other accusations swirled around FNC before, during and since, O'Reilly was finally canned after it was revealed that over $10 million had been paid out to settle other sexual harassment claims against him.

Gretchen Carlson, who received $20 million a year ago after claims against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, tweeted her take on the matter: "Nobody pays $32m for false allegations - nobody".

O'Reilly has not admitted to any wrongdoing, claiming the allegations were "politically and financially motivated". O'Reilly denied doing anything improper in an interview with the Times.

Fox News extended O'Reilly's contract six weeks later, boosting his pay from $18 million to $25 million. When Wiehl first appeared on the show in 2001, O'Reilly said he had gotten her the job and that she owed him for it, to which she replied, "No, no, no". Though Fox was already under fire at the time for its handling of complaints against Roger Ailes, the network rewarded O'Reilly with a new contract-and a significant raise-just a month after he settled with Wiehl. Debra Katz, a D.C attorney who handles sexual harassment cases, said the $32 millionsettlement amount was "tantamount to a class-action suit", in a conversation with the L.A. Times: "Katz said a settlement of that size typically includes a promise to withdraw the allegation".