Fox Renewed Bill O'Reilly’s Contract After $32 Million Sexual Harassment Settlement

New details are emerging about the extent to which Fox knew about the sexual harassment allegations againt Bill O'Reilly.

Bill O'Reilly

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Bill O'Reilly

Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News commentator, agreed to settle a sexual harassment case in February to the tune of $32 million, and even though Fox knew all about it, the network decided to renew his contract anyway, the New York Times reports. This means that when Bill O’Reilly was finally fired by Fox News in April, the network already knew of at least one major case in which O’Reilly had committed sexual harassment and decided to renew his contract regardless.

When O’Reilly was forced out of Fox in April, the New York Timesreported that the network had known about his behavior for many years before finally doing the right thing and getting rid of the racist, sexist, bigoted, lying, and all around garbage news commentator. But this specific case had never been made public before. The case "included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her."

It was the sixth harassment case that either O’Reilly or Fox had agreed to settle, but when the network renewed his contract only a month after learning of his huge February settlement, they gave him a comfortable four-year contract with a $25 million salary a year.

The decision had been made at least in part by Lachlan and James Murdoch, sons of Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s executive chairman. (Now is maybe a good time to mention that Roger Ailes, the former CEO of Fox, was also forced out of the network for sexual harassment allegations in 2016). It was only after several advertisers began to leave O’Reilly’s top-rated show that the network acted on the evidence it already had and according to Reuters, "The O’Reilly Factor" was the top-rated show at Fox News and brought in $147.13 million in advertising revenue in 2016."

In a statement, Fox admitted "it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against [O'Reilly]" when they renewed his contract, but asserts they were "informed by Mr. O'Reilly that he had settled the matter personally, on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company."

The network also states that "his new contract, which was made at a time typical for renewals of multi-year talent contracts, added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment, including that Mr. O'Reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation. The company subsequently acted based on the terms of this contract."

The statement went on to assure that "21st Century Fox has taken concerted action to transform Fox News," including “installing new leadership, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination."

Mark Fabiani, a representative for O'Reilly, issued his own long statement, which read in part: 

In its latest diatribe against Bill O'Reilly, the Times printed leaked information provided by anonymous sources that is out of context, false, defamatory, and obviously designed to embarrass Bill O'Reilly and to keep him from competing in the marketplace.

Gee, Bill. Sounds like if you didn't want to be embarrassed or kept from the "marketplace," you could've just treated women with respect and not sexually harassed them. Just a thought though!

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