Fox News star Bill O’Reilly has been uncharacteristically silent since the New York Times dropped a bombshell on his pattern of sexual harassment.
Here’s an excerpt from a Times investigation:
For nearly two decades, Bill O’Reilly has been Fox News’s top asset, building the No. 1 program in cable news for a network that has pulled in billions of dollars in revenues for its parent company, 21st Century Fox.
Behind the scenes, the company has repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly as he faced a series of allegations of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.
An investigation by The New York Times has found a total of five women who have received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.
Two settlements came after the network’s former chairman, Roger Ailes, was dismissed last summer in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, when the company said it did not tolerate behavior that “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.”
Fox quietly stood by O’Reilly the Ratings King after Fox said it wouldn’t tolerate disrespectful behavior.
Details of the story get pretty icky after that:
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 as if 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.
Of the five settlements, two were previously known — one for about $9 million in 2004 with a producer, and another struck last year with a former on-air personality, which The Times reported on in January. The Times has learned new details related to those cases.
O’Reilly, who presents himself as a moralist every night in his “No Spin Zone” show, is bleeding Fox advertisers since the Times story broke. At least nine companies have pulled sponsorship of his show as of this writing. (See the story on that here.)
One thing I find so irksome about this is that O’Reilly never lets us forget he’s a good Christian who had a good Catholic schooling and raising. He even fancies himself a Jesus scholar, despite no schooling or training in theology and Christian scholarship whatsoever.
But even more irksome is his insistence over the years that because he’s such “a prominent man,” he’s a target for frivolous lawsuits.
Of course, if they are so frivolous, he and his enablers at Fox wouldn’t keep settling by the millions with his accusers.
And anyway, what is so extra prominent about Bill O’Reilly that he gets so often sued for sexual harassment, while TV news men of equal or greater prominence never get accused of it?
His equally distinguished colleagues at Fox, Chris Wallace and Bret Brier–even his bitter in-house rival Sean Hannity–have never been targeted by women in the same Fox workplace. If they had we’d most assuredly know about it.
And who is more prominent in the TV news world that Tom Brokaw?
He’s so prominent as to have reached National Treasure status, and he’s worked with many women while being happily married for a hundred years without a hint of scandalous accusations lodged against him.
If fact, off hand, I can’t think of any other prominent TV news broadcasters, outside of Fox World, who’ve been accused of such sordid behavior in the workplace.
This story by the New York Times, which O’Reilly and most people at Fox hate (except when they love it when it goes after a Clinton or some liberal) ain’t gonna Spin.