Former Fox News host Eric Bolling would very much like his son to be excluded from Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment narrative.
Like O’Reilly, Bolling also left Fox News this year amid sexual harassment allegations. But when O’Reilly mentioned the death of Bolling’s son during an interview about how sexual harassment allegations affected his own family, Bolling was not happy.
“I believe it is beyond inappropriate for anyone to bring in the tragic death of my son Eric Chase Bolling,” the elder Bolling said in a statement on Monday, according to New York Times reporter Emily Steel. “Just as Bill O’Reilly had wanted to shield his children from the allegations against him, I hope he will honor my request and avoid any future mentions of my son. My parting from Fox News was in no way connected to the tragic news of my son’s passing.”
O’Reilly’s comments came in an interview with the New York Times, during which he said that the past year has been “a horrendous experience” for his family due to the multiple sexual harassment allegations that have surfaced against him and the reporting that revealed he has paid millions in settlements to women over the years. Most recently, the Times reported on a $32 million payout to a former network analyst to settle multiple allegations of harassment.
“All of a sudden all this stuff happens and the pain it brings to my children is indescribable. Indescribable,” O’Reilly told the Times. “I would give up my life to protect my children, but I find myself not being able to protect them because of things that are being said about me.”
To emphasize his point, O’Reilly told the Times they should think about the consequences of their reporting, citing the death of Bolling’s son as an example. “Eric Bolling’s son is dead, he’s dead because of allegations made in my opinion — and I know this to be true — against Mr. Bolling,” O’Reilly said.
Bolling’s son was found dead in September, shortly after Fox announced it would part ways with Bolling. But the former host pushed back strongly on Monday against the idea that his son’s death was connected to his own career.
“The coroner has in fact indicated to us that they believe it was an accident,” his statement said.
Bolling also denied that he left Fox due to the allegations against him, saying that he parted with the network “in an amicable way.”
After Bolling’s response, O’Reilly apologized on Monday evening for bringing the death into his interview, saying that he meant only to send a message that “allegations harm kids.”