CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Kirsten Powers had a lot to say about her time as a Fox News analyst working with Bill O’Reilly. The political analyst told a pretty harrowing story about what former Fox chief Roger Ailes told her when she complained about O’Reilly’s inappropriate jokes.
“Bill O’Reilly was Fox News, he had so much power,” Powers said, “and it was sort of unthinkable that he would ever leave there, except on his own terms. And I did his show regularly, you know, for a long time, and I was thinking about an incident that had happened early on in my career there where I was on-air there with Margaret Hoover, who’s at CNN now, on a regular segment, we were on every Monday. And he got Margaret’s name wrong, and Margaret said, ‘Hey, get my name right,’ and he said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, there’s a lot of blondes in this operation, I can’t keep you all straight. Megyn Kelly’s coming up,’ starts throwing all these blondes’ names. And at the end of the segment, says, ‘Thank you for your blondeness,’ to both of us.”
“So I went to his executive producer,” she continued, “and I said ‘He needs to apologize and he needs to never do that again. Or I’m not doing his show anymore.’ And I was told, ‘Well you know Bill, there’s nothing we can do about it, he’s a throwback. He’s kind of an Archie Bunker.’
“And I said, ‘Well, if you mean he’s a neanderthal, then we’re on the same page,’ ” she said. “He can never do that again. I’m a political analyst here. Went to Bill, came back, he said, ‘No, he’s not going to apologize.’ “
“So I went to my boss,” Powers added, “I was called into my boss’s office, I was told, ‘What can we do, it’s Bill, there’s nothing we can do. Uhm, we’re sorry this happened to you, but there’s nothing we can do.’
“I complained to Roger Ailes,” she continued, “I was told the same exact thing, ‘There’s nothing we can do. It’s Bill, he’s a jerk. Nobody likes him.’ And then Roger Ailes said, ‘You know Bill, he likes to put up dirty pictures and ask pretty girls to talk about them.’ Oh and then he said, ‘What am I gonna do? I don’t like him, but he makes so much money, there’s nothing I can do.’ “
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) April 20, 2017
Powers said that she quit his show for three years and came back, and didn’t have a problem with O’Reilly. However, she noted that no one was willing to stand up to him about his behavior.
“A lot of women just don’t talk about these things, because if you make trouble, your career is over,” she concluded. “Or at least that’s the way it used to be.”
O’Reilly was fired Wednesday from Fox News after weeks of damaging stories and accusations of sexual harassment. The network had promised to change the culture which tolerated Ailes’ own acts of harassment, and now will have to absorb the damage from axing one of their most popular hosts.
O’Reilly released a statement saying that the claims were unfounded, and that he was the victim of a “far-left” brutal campaign of “character assassination.”