Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that before Bill O’Reilly’s public downfall from Fox News earlier this year, the former host settled a previously unreported sexual harassment claim in January for $32 million. A spokesperson for O’Reilly fired back at the report in a statement, claiming that “in the more than 20 years Bill O'Reilly worked at Fox News, not one complaint was filed against him with the Human Resources Department or Legal Department by a coworker, even on the anonymous hotline.”
Megyn Kelly, also formerly an anchor on Fox, said on her NBC show on Monday that this claim was misleading. As she put it, “I know because I complained.”
She acknowledged that perhaps it’s true no one complained to the two departments that O’Reilly named, given that “Fox News was not exactly a friendly environment for harassment victims who wanted to report, in my experience.”
“However, O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained,” Kelly said.
Kelly released a memoir late last year in which she recounted, in part, her experiences with harassment from former network head Roger Ailes, with approval from Fox News’s owners. O’Reilly, on CBS News last November, dismissed the whole thing — saying he would not talk about anything that would make his company look bad. So Kelly sent an email to the co-presidents at Fox News about O’Reilly.
The email read in part:
Perhaps he didn’t realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that it will disgrace the company is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with. Perhaps it’s his own history of harassment of women which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than “I am just so sorry for the women of this company who never should have had to go through that.”
Kelly said Bill Shine, co-president of Fox News at the time, called her and promised to deal with O’Reilly. “By 8 pm that night, O’Reilly had apparently been dealt with,” Kelly said. “And by that I mean he was permitted with management’s advanced notice and blessing to go on the air and attack the company’s harassment victims yet again.”
“This is not unique to Fox News,” she added. “Women everywhere are used to being dismissed, ignored, or attacked when raising complaints about men in authority positions. They stay silent so often out of fear — fear of ending their careers, fear of lawyers, yes, and often fear of public shaming, including through the media.”