Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor." (Image source: YouTube)
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Editor's Note: This story has been revised to make clear previous reporting had already identified two of the five women mentioned in the New York Times' story had received payouts.
A new report published Saturday alleges Bill O’Reilly issued payouts to five women claiming he sexually harassed them. Despite these allegations, Fox News Channel has decided to renew O’Reilly’s contract. O’Reilly’s cable news show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” is the most-watched cable news program in the United States.
The New York Times reported yesterday an investigation by the publication found at least five women claiming to have been sexually harassed by O’Reilly received payouts from O’Reilly or Fox News in return for their silence and agreeing not to pursue litigation. Previous reports had already acknowledged two of the five women had received payouts in the past. According to the Times, the total amount paid is about $13 million.
O’Reilly issued a statement on his website on Saturday denying the sexual harassment claims but acknowledging he has on occasion “put to rest any controversies” to protect his family:
Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.
But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.
The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.
The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday evening O’Reilly’s contract, which would have expired at the end of 2017, was recently renewed and that Fox News. The Wall Street Journal is owned by the same company as Fox News, 21st Century Fox.
“The O’Reilly Factor” has been the most-watched cable news show for more than a decade. According to the most recent ratings data provided by TVNewser, O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. airing on Thursday attracted just under 3.27 million viewers, beating out CNN’s “AC360,” hosted by Anderson Cooper, by nearly 2 million viewers and MSNBC’s “All In,” hosted by Chris Hayes, by 1.1 million viewers. The 11 p.m. repeat airing of “The O’Reilly Factor,” which attracted slightly less than 1.58 million viewers, beat out every show in primetime on CNN.
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Justin Haskins is the director of the Socialism Research Center at the Heartland Institute and the co-author of the New York Times best-seller "Dark Future: Uncovering the Great Reset’s Terrifying Next Phase."