It has been six months since Bill O’Reilly was ousted from his top-rated Fox News show The O’Reilly Factor, but as he made clear in a Tuesday interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show to promote his new book, he has reflected very little on his actions.
O’Reilly said the sexual harassment claims filed against him by five women at Fox News were a “political and financial hit job.” He also maintained he did absolutely nothing wrong.
“I can go to sleep at night very well, knowing [I] never mistreated anyone on my watch in 42 years,” O’Reilly said. It was a striking statement coming from the same man who once defended slavery, compared the LGBTQ community to Al-Qaeda, and compared Rep. Maxine Waters’ hair to a “James Brown wig.”
In early April, the New York Times reported that both O’Reilly and Fox News had paid a combined total of $13 million to the aforementioned five women for their silence in various sexual harassment claims. O’Reilly also reportedly paid $9 million to another woman in 2009 who said the host had sexually harassed her.
At the time, O’Reilly had the protection of Roger Ailes, the former Fox News chairman who was let go from the network 10 months before O’Reilly was for his own sexual harassment allegations. O’Reilly, who claimed in his Tuesday interview that he’s never had a single human resources complaint filed against him, said he wasn’t even aware that Fox News had allegedly spent millions on keeping these five women silent.
“I don’t know because I’m not privy to what Fox News did,” O’Reilly explained. “After Roger Ailes went down, there was a flood of lawsuits — a flood — with dozens of people named. And the company did what the company did.”
Rather than owning up to the reason behind his firing, O’Reilly claimed the network fired him for “business reasons,” blaming it on boycott campaigns and the “radical left group” Media Matters.
In the week following the Times report, 77 advertisers dropped their spots from the network’s coveted 8 p.m. slot. The show went from hosting well over 30 ads from top national brands to selling pocket catheters and Australian pain-relief cream by the end of the week. Realizing that maintaining an accused sexual harasser on its payroll wasn’t profitable or worth the trouble, Fox News subsequently chose to let O’Reilly go.
When asked on Tuesday why he didn’t sue the women for their claims if they were inaccurate, O’Reilly blamed the women themselves saying, “you just can’t win these lawsuits […] every allegation is a conviction.” O’Reilly then went as far as to bring up a past falsified police report once filed by one of his five accusers as reason to discredit her. The false police report O’Reilly alluded to was a retracted claim that was never prosecuted.