Bill O’Reilly’s efforts to defend himself by attacking the women who have accused him of harassment have at least partially backfired. Today, the New York Times reports that one accuser who already settled with him has just sued him and Fox News for defamation and breach of contract.
Rachel Witlieb Bernstein is one of the six women the Times reported had settled harassment accusations against O’Reilly shortly before he was ousted from Fox News. Although, she was named by the Times, the paper now reports, “In her suit, Ms. Bernstein said she was not the source of the information printed in the Times article.”
Ms. Bernstein claims that statements made by Mr. O’Reilly and Fox News in response to the article disparaged and defamed her and violated the confidentiality clause of the settlement, which required that if asked about the dispute, the parties could respond by stating, “The matter has been resolved (or settled).”
“O’Reilly portrayed himself as a ‘target’ and claimed that complaints against him are extortionate,” Ms. Bernstein’s lawsuit said. “This is false. In fact, he is a serial abuser and Ms. Bernstein’s complaints about him were far from extortionate.”
Ms. Bernstein said Fox News had made a “deliberately misleading” statement by stating that no current or former Fox News employee ever used a hotline to report complaints about Mr. O’Reilly. She said that there was no hotline at Fox News during her employment and that she had repeatedly complained to the human resources department at Fox News, as well as other executives, about Mr. O’Reilly’s behavior.
Bernstein's complaints about O'Reilly's behavior did not involve sexual harassment.
The full New York Times article is here.
(Bill O’Reilly graphic by Nina Brodsky)