Bill O’Reilly insists that he did nothing wrong despite being fired by Fox News amidst sexual harassment allegations.
O’Reilly went on the Today show this morning to promote his latest book in the best-selling “Killing” series (Killing England), and by prearrangement with Matt Lauer, he agreed to answer questions about the abrupt end of his tenure on FNC.
As host of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly presided over the top-rated show on the cable news network for 15 years prior to his exit from the Fox News Channel last spring.
The news anchor got into hot water after the New York Times reported that he or his employer paid out $13 million to confidentially settle sexual harassment claims by five women, and advertisers started bailing on The O’Reilly Factor in droves. The Murdoch family, particularly the Murdoch sons who are said to be more politically liberal than their dad,Rupert, the chairman and CEO of News Corp. and acting Fox News CEO, decided to part ways on April 19 with their longtime star anchor while he was on vacation in Rome. In his exchange with Lauer, O’Reilly claimed he had no knowledge as to whether those payouts were actually made to the female accusers because he wasn’t privy to the negotiations.
O’Reilly revealed in the somewhat combative interview that Fox News did not give him a reason for his termination; the network exercised what amounts to a buyout clause in his contract (similar perhaps to stipulations in some Major League Baseball contracts) “and not put me on the air.” He said that his legal team aggressively refuted the allegations, but even given that the Factor was a ratings powerhouse, Fox News made a business decision to let him go.
O’Reilly might have been alluding, in part, to the ongoing efforts by the Murdochs to convince British regulators to allow them to take 100 percent control of the Sky News television network in the U.K.
As he has maintained previously, O’Reilly asserted that his ouster constituted “a political and financial hit job” by far-left activist groups who orchestrated an advertiser boycott to “bring down” Fox News and himself. He reaffirmed that his legal team would be presenting the facts of what actually happened, but he has no plans to sue any of his accusers, because under American law (unlike in Europe), it is difficult for a public figure to prevail in court.
Since the cancellation of The O’Reilly Factor, the Fox News prime-time lineup has gone through several shakeups, with the latest being the announcement of Laura Ingraham’s new show that will debut on October 30 at 10 p.m. Eastern. Tucker Carlson Tonight occupies the former O’Reilly time slot and has enjoyed solid ratings.
Once then-CEO Roger Ailes was forced out, Fox News was hit with a flood of lawsuits that contained accusations against dozens of Fox News employees, O’Reilly added.
Bill O’Reilly, who runs a subscription-based news service from his website and previously has talked about getting back in the cable game in a big way, told Matt Lauer that he has a clear conscience.
“In 42 years, I’ve been in this business. I’ve worked for 12 companies. Not one time did I have any interaction with [human resources]–any complaints filed against me…Nobody is a perfect person, but I can go to sleep at night very well knowing that I’ve never mistreated anyone on my watch in 42 years.”
Watch the entire Bill O’Reilly-Matt Lauer interview and draw your own conclusions.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]