For the first time since his ouster from Fox News, Bill O’Reilly spoke out publicly Monday about the sexual harassment accusations that ended his career as the news network’s megastar host – vowing that Americans will “be shaken” when they learn the “truth” about the whole affair.
Following a vacation from Fox News from which he never returned to his show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” O’Reilly hosted a podcast and mentioned his dismissal following numerous accusations by women of sexual harassment, charges that hurt the show’s advertising revenue. (Many readers had difficulty accessing O’Reilly’s podcast, as his website appeared to struggle with handling the online traffic.)
O’Reilly spoke only briefly of the scandal Monday, telling his podcast listeners:
I am sad that I’m not on television anymore. I was very surprised how it all turned out. I can’t say a lot, because there’s much stuff going on right now.
But I can tell you that I’m very confident the truth will come out, and when it does, I don’t know if you’re going to be surprised – but I think you’re going to be shaken, as I am. There’s a lot of stuff involved here.
Now, I can’t say any more because I just don’t want to influence the flow of the information. I don’t want the media to take what I say and misconstrue it. However you, as a loyal O’Reilly listener, have a right to know, I think, down the lane what exactly happened. And we are working in that direction, OK?
O’Reilly was forced out after anchoring the network’s flagship show for two decades amid claims by a dozen women of sexual harassment. The complaints – detailed at the end of this article – range from staring, leering and grunting to inappropriate comments, and, in the case of his ex-wife, choking.
The New York Times reported earlier this month O’Reilly or Fox had paid out some $13 million to settle complaints by five women over the years.
In a statement last week, O’Reilly called the accusations “completely unfounded.” O’Reilly’s complete statement, released Wednesday:
Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television. It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best Fox News Channel.
Lisa Bloom, the lawyer for O’Reilly accuser Perquita Burgess, revealed the ultimate goal of going public with her client’s accusations: “The mission was to bring down Bill O’Reilly.”
As WND reported, sources say O’Reilly doesn’t want to leave television and is considering the possibility of doing a show elsewhere – with networks like Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV, One America News and Sinclair Broadcasting among those mentioned.
When it was announced that he would not be returning, O’Reilly was on vacation in Italy, where he met Pope Francis at a general audience.
O’Reilly had recently re-signed a new contract with Fox that will pay him as much as $25 million for cutting him loose.
Over the course of his recent years at Fox, the show averaged 4 million viewers each night, making it the highest rated cable news television show ever.
O’Reilly’s departure from Fox also juggled the network’s primetime lineup. Fox News host Eric Bolling was given his own weekly show at 5 p.m., while company executives moved Tucker Carlson’s show to 8 p.m. and “The Five” to 9 p.m.
Among the known complaints against O’Reilly:
- In 2002, O’Reilly “stormed into the Fox newsroom and screamed at a young producer,” Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, who, not long after, “left the network with a payout.”
- In 2004, O’Reilly, was sued for sexual harassment by 33-year-old Andrea Mackris, who formerly worked on “The O’Reilly Factor.” In 2004, the Smoking Gun published the text of the complaint filed by Mackris, who was then an associate producer at Fox News. Mackris also recorded O’Reilly trying to entice her into having phone sex. O’Reilly can be heard offering to rub her down with a “falafel,” and he was widely mocked by a stunned public not only for his sex talk, but for also confusing the food item with a “loofah” sponge. That lawsuit was settled in 2004 for $9 million.
- The accusations weren’t limited to the workplace. The Daily Beast reported court documents show he “may have engaged in domestic violence” during a custody battle with former wife Maureen McPhilmy that started in 2010. Their daughter, years later as the dispute continued, “told a court-appointed forensic examiner that she witnessed O’Reilly ‘choking her mom,'” reports said.
- Then comes 2011, when, the Times said, Rebecca Gomez Diamond, brought out conversations with O’Reilly she had recorded at a time when her contract was not being renewed. Diamond left the network with an unknown payout and was bound by a confidentiality agreement, according to the Times.
- In 2015, it was attorneys for former Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue who claimed harassment, and the case was settled for more than $1 million.
- At about the same time, the Times said, “Fox reached a $1.6 million settlement with Juliet Huddy, a regular guest on “The O’Reilly Factor.” Huddy’s lawyers alleged that O’Reilly pursued a sexual relationship with her in 2011.
- Fox host Andrea Tantaros filed suit in 2016 claiming O’Reilly made sexually suggestive comments to her. Her lawsuit stated: “Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.”
- This year, Los Angeles radio personality Wendy Walsh went public with her claim O’Reilly invited her to go to his hotel suite in 2013. Walsh said she was able to discuss her claim because she was not bound by a confidentiality agreement, as many women reportedly are, the AP reported.
- In addition, last week Perquita Burgess alleged O’Reilly leered and grunted at her, and then called her “hot chocolate.” She reportedly called the 21st Century Fox hotline to formally report her claims, and also appeared on a television talk show with her lawyer, Lisa Bloom.
- And former Fox News staffers Margaret Hoover, Alisyn Camerota and Kirsten Powers last week made accusations against O’Reilly as his vaunted place at Fox was collapsing. Reported the Daily Beast: “Former frequent O’Reilly Factor guest and Fox contributor Margaret Hoover described working to never be alone with O’Reilly, given his penchant for inappropriate behavior. Her CNN colleague Alisyn Camerota – a former host of ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ – explained how sexual harassment at Fox ‘wasn’t the half of it.’ And Kirsten Powers, another ex-Fox Newser now at CNN, recalled complaining about O’Reilly’s lecherous behavior and being told to simply accept Bill as a relic of the old-school workplace.”