Bill O’Reilly has responded to the explosive New York Times article today that found a total of $13 million has been paid out to five women who have accused him of abuse. Unfortunately for him, I don’t think his statement does anything to get him out of the muck.
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.”
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.
In a statement on his website, O’Reilly took no responsibility but suggested he’s the real victim:
Just like other prominent and controversial people, I'm vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.
But most importantly, I'm a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.
The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.
There’s so much that’s unpersuasive about that statement. Let us count the ways:
1. O’Reilly does not deny guilt. He tries to imply innocence by saying that nobody has ever filed a formal complaint. That looks more like parsing than evidence.
2. O’Reilly may indeed be a target for fortune hunters. But Sean Hannity must be the same kind of target, too, or close to it. And I have yet to hear of any allegations of harassment or abuse against him. Yet O’Reilly has had five leveled at him. Not one or two, five. That's not counting the Andrea Tantaros lawsuit which accuses him but does not name him as a defendant.
3. It’s not just women, conniving or otherwise. O'Reilly's daughter has said he physically assaulted her mother.
According to the Times, O’Reilly knew today’s report was coming. Do you think that’s why he made a rare apology to Waters soon after his joke? If so, he really needs to work on that skill. Because in the same segment as his apology, he went on to smear her as an unpatriotic, welfare-loving demagogue.
Watch O’Reilly’s brand of apology below, from the March 28, 2017 The O’Reilly Factor.
Gee — maybe that’s why you are always ragging on Hollywood types …