Bill O'Reilly's Lawyer Slams Latest NYT Report

Bill O'Reilly's Lawyer Slams Latest NYT Report

Bill O'Reilly's Lawyer Slams Latest NYT Report

Former Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly was handed a new contract in January, despite the network's parent company knowing he had recently settled a sexual harassment case.

Fox announced in April that O'Reilly would not return to Fox News after the Times reported that five women were paid $13 million to settle sexual harassment suits against the network host.

In February, aware of Wiehl's claims and the settlement, 21st Century Fox offered O'Reilly a new four-year contract at $25 million a year, up from about $18 million.

21st Century Fox released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday, October 21, in which the company defended renewing O'Reilly's contact: "When the company renewed Bill O'Reilly's contract in February, it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Lis Wiehl, but was informed by Mr. O'Reilly that he had settled the matter personally, on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company".

According to the explosive new report, last January, O'Reilly struck the money deal with Fox News analyst Lis Wiehl, Times sources said.

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"21st Century Fox has taken concerted action to transform Fox News, including installing new leaders, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination". The New York Times reported Saturday the company renewed the TV host's contract after he reached a $32 million settlement with the analyst.

As part of the settlement, Wiehl agreed to destroy messages and photos from O'Reilly that could back up her complaints, and to keep silent on the issue, the newspaper reported. O'Reilly has dismissed the charges as baseless, telling the Times that they are "politically and financially motivated". Fox re-signed O'Reilly earlier this year, he wrote, "after the company had analyzed and considered all the allegations against him".

The disclosure of the Wiehl settlement follows a string of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein, including accusations of rape, that sparked a worldwide conversation about harassment in the film industry and beyond.

If the Times's figure is accurate, the latest settlement exceeds all of the previous agreements between O'Reilly and his accusers.

Nevertheless, the Murdochs chose to re-sign O'Reilly, despite being aware of his history of settlements, including the one with Wiehl only a month before they began contract renewal talks. The new round of harassment allegations also seemed to threaten British approval of 21st Century's multibillion-dollar purchase of Sky Broadcasting, a British-based satellite service. When the charges against him first appeared, O'Reilly also found an ally in fellow alleged groper President Trump, who said "I don't think Bill did anything wrong".

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