Bill O’Reilly took to Twitter on Saturday evening in the wake of a damning New York Times report, calling it “lies and smear” and alleging that the Times had ignored an affidavit signed by Lis Wiehl, a colleague, and his former lawyer, who threatened to sue him for alleged sexual misconduct. According to USA Today, O’Reilly stated that his investigative team had exposed the NYT‘s “lies and smear” and that he would be speaking to them on Monday.
O’Reilly’s spokesperson, Mark Fabiani, also joined in, making the accusation that the Times had left Wiehl’s letter out of their story, and accused them of ignoring sworn evidence in favor of gossip, hearsay, and stolen documents. New York Times reporter, Michael S. Schmidt, who co-wrote the story with Emily Steel, responded by highlighting two places in the story where the letter had been mentioned.
Bill O’Reilly lost his long-standing position as host of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor when sexual misconduct allegations against him first started coming to light, also, initially, through a New York Times investigation. However, if the reports are accurate, the $32 million settlement with Lis Wiehl would be the largest to date.
Fabiani called the report a “malicious smear,” and implied that the earlier reports had been the same. He said that the Times had leaked information which, taken out of context, was defamatory and intended to drag O’Reilly’s name through the mud, ruining the 68-year-old multi-millionaire’s future career prospects.
For his own part, O’Reilly, who has settled previous cases to the tune of at least $45 million in total, claimed that every accusation was politically, and financially, motivated, and that he had never mistreated anyone.
Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox issued a statement in light of the latest report, admitting that they were aware of the harassment suit, but said that as O’Reilly had settled the matter personally, they considered themselves uninvolved. Shortly after the suit, O’Reilly signed a new contract with Fox News worth $25 million annually, and Fox News noted in their statement that the new contract contained provisions allowing them to dismiss him if further allegations of misconduct surfaced, contract provisions which the network ultimately exercised.
Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, who was responsible for the turning-point sexual harassment lawsuit filed against former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, added her own opinion on Saturday, tweeting that “nobody pays $32m for false allegations – nobody.”
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