Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly appeared on NBC on Tuesday morning to promote a book. Host Savannah Guthrie brought up that several Fox News personalities, including Greta Van Susteren and Geraldo Rivera, expressed regret for initially defending former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who was forced out of his role in light of multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
“To all the victims of sexual harassment, direct and indirect, I am sorry for what happened to you. As the father of three daughters, including one in the news business, I urge all who have been offended to reach out,” Rivera wrote on Facebook.
Guthrie wanted to know if O’Reilly had similar regrets about defending Ailes.
O’Reilly replied that he knows “nothing about the case,” never defended Ailes from the sexual harassment allegations and only said he “was a great boss.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 13, 2016
Bill O’Reilly is not telling the truth.
Back in July, a week after Carlson’s suit was filed, O’Reilly declared on NBC’s Late Show with Seth Myers that Ailes was the victim of a frivolous lawsuit. O’Reilly told Myers that “[i]n this country, every famous, powerful or wealthy person is a target.”
He suggested that Carlson’s lawsuit against Ailes, which Fox News ended up settling for $20 million, was “a frivolous lawsuit.” He suggested that America adopt “the English system of civil law whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs.”
He called the entire situation a product of an “out-of-control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive.”
“I stand behind Roger 100 percent,” he concluded.
The Washington Post described O’Reilly’s defense of Ailes as a “mutual protection racket,” noting that Ailes defended O’Reilly against repeated charges that he “either embellished or told falsehoods or outright lied about various reporting exploits.”
But O’Reilly had another reason to play dumb. He’s facing his own allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News. In August, former Fox News commenter Andrea Tantaros also sued Fox News, claiming she was one of many women harassed by Roger Ailes.
Tantaros also alleged she was harassed by O’Reilly:
[C]ommencing in February 2016, Bill O’Reilly (“O’Reilly”), whom Tantaros had considered to be a good friend and a person from whom she sought career guidance, started sexually harassing her by, inter alia, (a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be “very private,” and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could “see [her] as a wild girl,” and that he believed that she had a “wild side.” Fox News did take one action: plainly because of O’Reilly’s rumored prior sexual harassment issues and in recognition of Tantaros’s complaints, Brandi informed Cane that Tantaros would no longer be appearing on O’Reilly’s Fox News show, The O’Reilly Factor.
O’Reilly, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, was not asked about these allegations on NBC.
O’Reilly was also sued by Fox producer Andrea Mackris in 2004. She alleged that O’Reilly “repeatedly subjected her to sexual harassment through dinner and phone conversations variously described as lewd, lascivious, vile and threatening.” That suit was settled.