Bill O’Reilly’s lawyer blames ‘brutal campaign of character assassination’ for his plight

The scorched-earth statement comes as Fox News reportedly prepares to cut ties.

Credit: Diego Corredor/Media Punch/IPX
Credit: Diego Corredor/Media Punch/IPX

As numerous reports swirl that Fox News is preparing to cut ties with Bill O’Reilly before he returns from his “vacation,” his attorney signaled that cable news’ top-rated host won’t go down before he scorches the earth behind him.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, Marc E. Kasowitz wrote that his client “has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.”

O’Reilly, who has spent months battling a wave of sexual harassment allegations, was hit with a fresh harassment claim on Tuesday — the same day a group of protesters delivered 480,000 petitions calling for O’Reilly’s termination to Fox News headquarters.

His attorney’s reference to former U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), whose name has become synonymous with making unfounded accusations, hearkens back to the words President Donald Trump used last month when he baselessly accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping him.

Kasowitz went on to add that his firm “has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons.”

“That evidence will be put forth shortly and it is irrefutable,” he concluded.

The line about “organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly” could be a reference to the anonymous Twitter account Sleeping Giants, which organized a campaign to persuade advertisers to sever ties with O’Reilly after the New York Times reported on April 1 that he and Fox News paid $13 million to settle five sexual harassment claims. Sleeping Giants’ campaign was highly successful — the progressive nonprofit Media Matters tabulated that more than 80 advertisers pulled out, amounting to a loss of between $37 and $42 million.

The statement from O’Reilly’s attorney at least stopped short of attacking the accusers, as Trump repeatedly did when was hit with a string of sexual assault allegations last October. In the days after the New York Times broke news of O’Reilly’s settlements, Trump defended him, saying “I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person” and “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

UPDATE: Gabriel Sherman, a journalist for New York Magazine who literally wrote the book on Fox News, reported on Wednesday morning that the Murdoch family has decided to dump O’Reilly.

“The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end,” Sherman reported. “According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.”

UPDATE: Fox News has confirmed O’Reilly’s departure in a statement.

Business Insider obtained a memo the Murdochs sent to Fox News staff addressing O’Reilly’s firing.