Fox News is once again battling public controversy about the company's response to alleged sexual harassment from prominent male employees.
Bill O’Reilly, Fox’s top-rated host, has dealt with sexual harassment lawsuits behind the scenes during most of his tenure with the network, The New York Times reported over the weekend. In fact, Fox and O’Reilly have reportedly doled out roughly $13 million to a total of five women who have levied accusations against him.
The cash was given to several women in exchange for agreeing not to pursue litigation or speak out publicly against O’Reilly, who has denied the veracity of the claims.
In her recently released book, “Settle for More,” former Fox star Megyn Kelly, now an anchor at NBC News, asserted that Fox is set up to protect those who harass women.
Kelly wrote that “the entire structure was set up to isolate and silence” accusers and that those who did come forward “didn’t manage to effect any change.” Kelly made those comments in a section of her memoir devoted to ousted Fox chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, whom she accused of harassment.
Of course, this is just Kelly’s opinion, but it does shed some light into why, perhaps, so much money has been spent on keeping O’Reilly’s record clean. O’Reilly has been anchoring a Fox program since 1996.
Fox, for its part, refused to address the details of the accusations against O’Reilly, but told the Times in a statement that 21st Century Fox “takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously.”
Here’s the full statement:
21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously.
Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly.
While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.
Kelly offered some advice of her own as to how the popular news channel can improve its workplace environment:
“Having meaningful controls in place to encourage reporting is critical,” she wrote. “Having managers in place who understand their own responsibilities upon receiving such a report is equally important.”
Meanwhile, O’Reilly continues to experience professional and ratings success.
According to Nielsen, “The O’Reilly Factor” has pulled in some 3.9 million viewers every night in the months since the presidential election. In February, O’Reilly scored a coveted pre-Super Bowl interview with President Donald Trump and last week, the Fox host released his latest book, “Old School,” which compares the “values” of bygone years to today’s increasingly secular society.