Fox Settled $32 Million Harassment Case Against O'Reilly

Carla Harmon
October 22, 2017

Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly secretly settled a sexual harassment allegation with a network contributor for $32 million, the largest, by far, of six such agreements that eventually toppled the outspoken commentator, according to a new report.

A report in the New York Times published Saturday said O'Reilly made the payment to Lis Wiehl, a longtime contributor to his program, who alleged that O'Reilly forced her into a nonconsensual sexual relationship and sent her sexually explicit material.

Despite the settlement, and others the New York Times reported in April totaled $13 million to five women over the last 15 years, 21st Century Fox extended O'Reilly's contract in February, according to the report.

O'Reilly was sacked in April by Fox News's parent company, 21st Century Fox, after the Times revealed that he had settled with five former colleagues who had alleged harassment by him over more than a decade.

The statement continues, "21st Century Fox has taken concerted action to transform Fox News, including installing new leaders, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination". When the charges against him first appeared, O'Reilly also found an ally in fellow alleged groper President Trump, who said "I don't think Bill did anything wrong". His spokesman was quoted saying, "We hope that all the leaks coming out of Fox are not created to hurt Bill O'Reilly in the marketplace".

O'Reilly was sacked in April after it was revealed he had paid out $13 million to five women to settle other sexual harassment allegations.

However, O'Reilly refused to specifically comment on Wiehl.

At the time, Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, the top executives at 21st Century Fox, had made a business calculation to stand by O'Reilly despite the harassment dispute, the newspaper reported. The new round of harassment allegations also seemed to threaten British approval of 21st Century's multibillion-dollar purchase of Sky Broadcasting, a British-based satellite service. The previous highest was reported to be former anchor Gretchen Carlson's $20 million deal after suing Fox News head Roger Ailes in 2016.

"Once again, The New York Times has maliciously smeared Bill O'Reilly, this time even failing to print a sworn affidavit from his former lawyer, Lis Wiehl, repudiating all allegations against Bill O'Reilly", he said. "I thank each and every one of you who have been so helpful to me over the years". They note that O'Reilly's new contract stipulated they had the ability to fire him should new allegations arise.

O'Reilly claims that Wiehl was part of his legal team, and that he had merely forwarded explicit messages from viewers to her as part of an effort to vet threats against him.

Other reports by iNewsToday