Bill O’Reilly’s contract with Fox News all but guaranteed he could sexually harass women with impunity and allow the network to turn a blind eye to it all, according to testimony from a director of parent company 21st Century Fox.
The astounding revelation was made by Jacques Nasser, an independent director on the board of 21st Century Fox, during testimony to a British commission reviewing Fox’s hoped-for takeover of British satellite television giant Sky. Nasser testified that O’Reilly’s contract with Fox News included a provision that O’Reilly could not be fired over an allegation unless it could be proved in court.
As Washington Post columnist Erik Wemple explained, such a provision amounts to “virtually allowing” a man as rich as O’Reilly to settle any case against him and thus ensure that no case is ever proven in court.
But as Wemple noted, that one provision in O’Reilly’s contract with Fox News speaks volumes about the network’s lack of integrity and scruples:
That O’Reilly ever had a prove-it-in-court provision says a great deal about: 1) His lawyers, who knew how to protect him; 2) Fox News, which should have seen the provision as fair warning and a potential legal liability: “Fox lawyers and executives knew that this was a big issue if they were signing a contract with him with this type of provision,” says [attorney Lisa] Banks; 3) The ways in which the legal system accommodates rich people; as premier thinker Tom Scocca wrote, settlements are a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for accused sexual harassers such as O’Reilly. And to think: O’Reilly has bashed this very system for unduly empowering complainants to bring frivolous complaints against celebrities.
And 4) the malignant Fox News culture of ratings. With very few scoops and little in the way of journalistic integrity, Fox News has always fended off the attacks of critics by pointing to its preeminence in the ratings. As the Fox News sexual-harassment saga drags on, we learn more and more about how low its executives will stoop in order to preserve this distinction.
And yet O’Reilly continues to play the victim. Listen to him do so on the September 18, 2017 The Sean Hannity show below, via Media Matters.
(O’Reilly image by Nina Brodsky)