In a new report published on Saturday, The New York Times claims that Bill O’Reilly and Fox News have paid $13 million in harassment settlements involving five different women who have accused O’Reilly of misconduct. Of the five, two settlements are said to have been reached following the departure of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who resigned last July in the wake of a harassment suit filed against him by former network personality Gretchen Carlson.
According to the Times, an investigation found that five women have “received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or [21st Century Fox] in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him.” Of the settlements, two of the five were previously known, including a $9 million settlement paid out in 2004 to former producer Andrea Mackris. Of the other three, two are said to involvement allegations of sexual harassment, while the other alleges that O’Reilly verbally scolded “a young producer in front of newsroom colleagues.” All of the accusers either worked for the host of The O’Reilly Factor or appeared on his show.
O’Reilly has since responded to the report via his website. In his statement, he refers to himself as a “target” who is “vulnerable to lawsuits” as a “prominent” person, but does not deny that settlements have been reached. His full statement reads as follows:
“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.”
21st Century Fox, meanwhile, issued the following response:
“21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously. Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.”
O’Reilly has been with Fox News for over 20 years. According to The Wall Street Journal, his contract was recently renewed by the cable news network despite having knowledge of what was reported by the Times.