As the Hollywood Left continues to reel over the biggest sexual harassment and assault scandal in recent memory, several mainstream news sites have made sure to remind folks that some on the Right have also been involved in harassment scandals. One of those men is former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who is the subject of a New York Times piece published Saturday alleging that he paid one accuser $32 million as a settlement. O'Reilly has responded to the article by slamming it as "lies and smear."
Citing "two people briefed on the agreement on the matter," the Times alleges that last January, O'Reilly "struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst [Lis Wiehl] to settle new sexual harassment allegations," underscoring that the settlement figure is "an extraordinarily large amount for such cases."
Although the deal has not been previously made public, the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, acknowledges that it was aware of the woman’s complaints about Mr. O’Reilly. They included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, according to the people briefed on the matter.
It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either Mr. O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him. Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year.
In response, O'Reilly slammed the Times on Twitter Saturday for publishing "yet another smear article on me" and linked to a statement by his spokesman Mark Fabiani denouncing the article.
"Once again, The New York Times has maliciously smeared Bill O'Reilly, this time even failing to print a sworn affidavit from his former lawyer, Lis Wiehl, repudiating all allegations against Bill O'Reilly," wrote Fabiani. "The Times ignored that evidence, sworn under oath, and chose to rely on unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous sources and incomplete leaked or stolen documents." (Full statement below.)
"My investigative team has done a superb job in exposing the lies and smear," O'Reilly wrote in a follow-up tweet. "I will speak with you on Monday."
As USA Today highlights, the Times has since pushed back on O'Reilly's claims; one of the authors of the story, Michael S. Schmidt, pointing out online that the article does mention Wieh's repudiation of the allegations. The Times also issued a statement slamming Fabiani for addressing "everything but what the story actually says" and insisting that the article, "like our previous reporting on the subject, is accurate and deeply reported and we welcome any challenge to the facts."
In the original "smear" article, the Times quotes O'Reilly fully denying the accusations against him, saying he "never mistreated anyone," and maintaining that he only resolved the issues through settlements to protect his family. The public outcry about the accusations, he said, is "politically and financially motivated, and we can prove it with shocking information, but I’m not going to sit here in a courtroom for a year and a half and let my kids get beaten up every single day of their lives by a tabloid press that would sit there, and you know it."
With the buzz over the Times exposé cranking up, O'Reilly's former colleague Megyn Kelly publicly claimed Monday morning that she personally complained about O'Reilly's behavior to Fox News executives in November 2016 but was effectively shut down. "O'Reilly's suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false," Kelly said on the TODAY Show Monday. "I know because I complained." (Read more here.)
Here's the full statement from Fabiani published on BillOReilly.com:
Once again, The New York Times has maliciously smeared Bill O'Reilly, this time even failing to print a sworn affidavit from his former lawyer, Lis Wiehl, repudiating all allegations against Bill O'Reilly. The Times ignored that evidence, sworn under oath, and chose to rely on unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous sources and incomplete leaked or stolen documents.
Here are the facts: after the Chairman of Fox News Roger Ailes was fired in July 2016, dozens of women accused scores of male employees of Fox News of harassment - including the current co-president of Fox News Jack Abernathy.
21st Century Fox settled almost all these cases, paying out close to $100 million dollars. Six months after Mr. Ailes left the company, Fox News Corporation signed Bill O'Reilly to a record breaking new contract after the company had analyzed and considered all allegations against him.
In its first article about Mr. O'Reilly on April 1st, The New York Times printed inaccurate settlement figures while fully understanding that O'Reilly and his counsel are legally bound by confidentiality and cannot set the record straight.
In its latest diatribe against Bill O'Reilly, the Times printed leaked information provided by anonymous sources that is out of context, false, defamatory, and obviously designed to embarrass Bill O'Reilly and to keep him from competing in the marketplace.
Finally, in the more than 20 years Bill O'Reilly worked at Fox News, not one complaint was filed against him with the Human Resources Department or Legal Department by a coworker, even on the anonymous hotline. The New York Times has copies of two letters written by 21st Century Fox lawyers attesting to that fact.
The Times failed to print them, too.