In January, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly agreed to pay an astonishing $32 million to settle sexual harassment allegations from a Fox New analyst.
The New York Times reported details of the settlement on Saturday, which was previously unknown to the reporters who had uncovered a string of sexual harassment claims against the popular host of The O'Reilly Factor.
The newly disclosed allegations came from Lis Wiehl, a former legal analyst at Fox News who appeared on O'Reilly's show for more than 15 years. She accused O'Reilly of repeatedly harassing her, forcing her into a sexual relationship, and sending her gay pornography and other sexually explicit material, according to the Times:
It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either Mr. O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him. Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year.
The network's parent company, 21st Century Fox, told the newspaper that it was aware of Wiehl's complaints, but considered the settlement a personal matter between both parties.
At the time, Fox News was trying to overcome negative press from the scandal surrounding the network's founder and CEO Roger Ailes. The company ended up firing him in 2016 after several prominent women at the network accused him of sexual harassment.
Even though company executives were aware of O'Reilly's alleged transgressions, they planned to keep him on at the company and extended his contract in February. That all changed in April, when the New York Times reported on the five settlements involving O'Reilly.
The scandal sparked protests and led advertisers to boycott O'Reilly's top-rated cable news show. In mid-April, the company fired him.
The Times also discovered that federal prosecutors who were investigating the network’s handling of sexual harassment complaints against Ailes also requested material related to allegations against O’Reilly.