With right-wing media on the attack against Democrats because of the financial contributions they’ve received from the accused rapist and former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, Fox News has found itself in an uncomfortably hypocritical situation.
Having seen their former Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and their former top prime-time on-air talent Bill O’Reilly both be ousted from the company in the past 15 months over the same type of sexual harassment charges that brought down Weinstein, Fox News’ attacks on Democrats associating with sexual predators rang somewhat hollow, particularly after they allowed O’Reilly to plug his latest book on Sean Hannity’s program last month.
Then yesterday The New York Times revealed that O’Reilly had privately settled a previously undisclosed sexual harassment claim for $32 million right before Fox renewed his last contract, a contract that increased his salary to $25 million per year, despite their knowledge of a previous $45 million worth of harassment settlements made on O’Reilly’s behalf.
O’Reilly has denied the new charges in the NY Times‘ report, posting this on Twitter:
— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) October 21, 2017
The statement on O’Reilly’s web site basically cites the sworn affidavit by Lis Weihl, the beneficiary of the $32 million settlement, that she has dropped the claims against the former Fox News host, a fairly typical requirement in these types of settlements. Here’s the money, now keep quiet about the whole thing.
The NY Times responded to O’Reilly’s rejoinder by standing by its reporting and noting that O’Reilly’s response doesn’t actually address the facts of the matter.
This is the context in which Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News host who made the first public sexual harassment accusations against Roger Ailes after her contract was not renewed, allegedly after rejecting Ailes’s advances, responded to O’Reilly’s tweet.
Nobody pays $32m for false allegations – nobody https://t.co/qB3njcHHuy
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) October 21, 2017
$32 million was more than a year’s salary for Bill O’Reilly. That’s not the kind of money that one gives away just to avoid annoying litigation.
Gretchen Carlson worked in the toxic Fox News environment for a long time, but not long enough for her common sense to be eroded. If anyone can come forward with examples of $32 million settlements for frivolous accusations, please feel free to publicize them, but it’s hard to argue with the logic of someone who was there in the line of fire in the Fox News headquarters and who not only witnessed but was a victim of the noxious, hostile work environment.