Another intriguing question about Bill O’Reilly was raised by what Fox News didn’t say in its response to Andrea Tantaros’ sexual harassment lawsuit.
As I’ve previously reported, Andrea Tantaros accused O’Reilly of “(a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be ‘very private,’ and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could ‘see [her] as a wild girl,’ and that he believed that she had a ‘wild side.’”
O’Reilly was one of four non-defendants Tantaros accused of sexual misconduct.
However, O’Reilly was the only one of the non-defendants Tantaros has asked to take a lie detector test.
It turns out O’Reilly is also the only one that Fox did not defend in its response. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple tried to find out more about the omission:
The Erik Wemple Blog this morning asked Fox News about the situation, and a spokesperson issued this statement: “There is nothing to defend in Tantaros’s suit because Mr. O’Reilly is not a defendant. He is mentioned once in a 37 page complaint, and that mention is not worth defending because it is untrue.” Fred Newman, a lawyer for O’Reilly, told The Post’s Paul Farhi just about the same thing: “I don’t think you should read anything into it. There is nothing to defend in Tantaros’s suit because Mr. O’Reilly is not a defendant. He is mentioned once in a 37-page complaint, and that mention is not worth defending because it is untrue.”
Never let it be said that Fox News and the attorney for its top-rated hosts aren’t on message.
When a lawyer cautions against reading “anything into” something, alas, it’s often a good idea to read a lot into it. Here, Fox News left its meal ticket, the host of cable news’ leading program for years, dangling in the margins of a damaging lawsuit.
Last weekend, I wrote about my suspicions that O’Reilly’s current vacation might be tied to Tantaros’ accusations. It was announced the day after Tantaro’s lawsuit was filed. His lengthy explanation was uncharacteristic. It began, unpersuasively, “Now, excellent weather here in the northeast so I am going to take a few days resting up for the brutal campaign that’ll ramp up in September and October.” It was especially odd given that O’Reilly had recently returned from a nearly two-week vacation.
The plot thickens.
Correction: This post originally said that O'Reilly announced his vacation the same day Andrea Tantaros filed her lawsuit.