Bill O'Reilly sexual harassment allegations: Everything you need to know
Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly is under increasing fire after The New York Times reported that five women were paid a collective $13 million for agreeing not to file lawsuits or speak publicly about allegations that he harassed them. The revelations were the latest headache for Fox News, coming just months after cable network’s CEO and chairman Roger Ailes stepped down amidst similar claims.
Since the Times report over the weekend, one more woman has come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Ailes, and at least 11 advertisers have pulled ads from O’Reilly’s top-rated cable news show, The O’Reilly Factor. Neither Fox News nor its parent company 21st Century Fox immediately responded to requests for comment on Tuesday. But 21st Century Fox has previously said O’Reilly “denies the merits of these claims.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the allegations and the ongoing fallout.
Who has come forward against Bill O’Reilly and what have they said?
In total, five women have said they were paid either by O’Reilly or Fox News to settle harassment allegations, The Times reports, agreeing not to pursue legal action or publicly discuss the incidents. (Two of these women had already come forward).
The women named in the Times report are Rachel Witlieb Bernstein and Andrea Mackris, who were former producers on his show, and Rebecca Gomez Diamond, Laurie Dhue, and Juliet Huddy, former on-air personalities at Fox News and Fox Business Network. All except Bernstein’s involved sexual harassment claims.
All of these women either worked with O’Reilly or appeared on his show. The settlements took place between 2002 and 2016.
Since the Times report, another woman, Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky, has filed a harassment claim against Fox News and Ailes, but the allegations don’t involve O’Reilly.
How have Fox News and Bill O’Reilly responded?
O’Reilly’s show aired Monday night for the first time since the story broke, but he did not address the allegations. In a statement posted on his website April 1, O’Reilly wrote that his fame has made him susceptible to lawsuits, but that no complaints have ever been filed against him internally to the company’s human resources department, even anonymously.
“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel,” O’Reilly said. Noting that he is a father who would never purposely harm his children, he continued: “Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”
21st Century Fox referred PEOPLE to Fox News, which did respond to a request for comment.
In a statement to The Times on Saturday, 21st Century Fox said: “Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.”
What has the backlash been for O’Reilly’s show?
The number of companies pulling ads from O’Reilly’s show continues to grow. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 11 companies, including BMW, Hyundai, and Mercedez-Benz had pulled advertisements from The O’Reilly Factor.
“The controversy around The O’Reilly Factor program and allegations made against Bill O’Reilly are matters that we take seriously and will continue to monitor,” a spokeswoman for the pharmaceutical company Sanofi U.S. told PEOPLE in a statement. “We do not endorse the behavior or opinions of program hosts or the content.”
Donna Boland, a spokeswoman for Mercedes-Benz USA, called the allegations “disturbing.”
“Given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now,” she said.