Saturday, 25 November, 2017

Fox Renewed O'Reilly Contract Despite $32 Million Harassment Settlement

Demonstrator Matt Mitchell holds a sign outside of the News Corp. and Fox News headquarters April 19 in midtown Demonstrator Matt Mitchell holds a sign outside of the News Corp. and Fox News headquarters April 19 in midtown
Heather Davidson | 23 October, 2017, 04:39

Fired Fox News host Bill O'Reilly made a $32 million settlement to a woman who accused him of sexual harassment one month before the network re-upped his contract, reports The New York Times.

The allegations against O'Reilly included "repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material" to a longtime network analyst, according to a New York Times article published on Saturday, October 21.

Notwithstanding that record, 21st Century Fox started contract transactions with Mr. O'Reilly, and in February conceded him a four-year expansion that paid $25 million a year.

"When the company renewed Bill O'Reilly's contract in February, it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Lis Wiehl, but was informed by Mr. O'Reilly that he had settled the matter personally, on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company", 21st Century Fox said in a statement Saturday. "The company subsequently acted based on the terms of this contract", they said of what became O'Reilly's well paid out firing in April of this year from the already deeply tainted once Roger Ailes run cabler.

Ms. Wiehl agreed to destroy all communications between her and Mr. O'Reilly and eventually signed an affidavit dated January 17 retracting the allegations and promising not to sue, the report said.

In an interview with the Times, O'Reilly maintained his innocence.

The Times ignored that evidence, sworn under oath, and chose to rely on unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous sources and incomplete leaked or stolen documents. The producer was sacked by his own company earlier this month after the Times revealed three decades of alleged sexual harassment and assault by Weinstein.

The allegations brought by Wiehl against O'Reilly were settled in a stunningly short period of time time - just 15 days.

Fredric S. Newman, O'Reilly's lawyer, said the company was eager to have the host stay on after the departure of Megyn Kelly, another of the most popular Fox News personalities, and initiated the negotiations. But the $32 million settlement reached in January has not been reported previously.

O'Reilly personally paid two of these five settlements. "I think he's a person I know well - he is a good person". 21st Century's top executives, James and Lachlan Murdoch - the sons of Fox News co-founder Rupert Murdoch - had publicly pledged to improve the workplace culture at Fox. He had been at the network for more than 20 years.

Ultimately, the Murdochs ousted O'Reilly after the initial Times report appeared in April, triggering an advertiser exodus from his program, "The O'Reilly Factor".

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