Now that Fox News has officially severed ties with Bill O’Reilly following numerous allegations of sexual harassment over the years, stories about the behavior of the former king of cable news ratings are really starting to pour in.
On Wednesday, USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper to share her own O’Reilly tales. A recurring political analyst on “The O’Reilly Factor,” she told of the time she was on the show with Fox News’ Margaret Hoover, who earlier Wednesday told CNN’s Erin Burnett that she made sure never to be alone with O’Reilly.
The story Powers shared was from early in her career. She explained that O’Reilly had gotten Hoover’s name wrong, and she told O’Reilly to get her name right.
O’Reilly responded with a smug, sexist remark: “He said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, there’s a lot of blondes in this operation, I can’t keep you all straight.’ Megyn Kelly is coming up, starts throwing all these blonde names. Then at the end of the segment says, ‘Thank you for your blonde-ness,’ to the both of us.”
Powers said she went to O’Reilly’s executive producer and demanded an apology or else she’d never do another segment on his show.
The response she got infuriated her: “I was told basically, ‘Well, you know Bill, there’s nothing we can do about it, he’s a throwback, he’s kind of an Archie Bunker.”
Ultimately, the executive producer went to O’Reilly, came back to Powers and told her that O’Reilly is not going to apologize.
Powers then took her complaint all the way to the top to former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who was also ousted because of allegations of sexual harassment. Powers found no support from Ailes and was floored by what he told her.
“I was told the same exact thing, there’s nothing we can do, it’s Bill, he’s a jerk, nobody likes him. And then Roger said, ‘You know Bill, he likes to put up dirty pictures and ask pretty girls to talk about them.’ Oh, and then he said, ‘What am I going to do? I don’t like him, but he makes so much money there’s nothing I can do.'”
“And so this was the culture, which was Bill was just too big, so there was nothing you could do about it,” she explained.
Powers said she quit the show for a couple of years. She decided to give it another try, and did not face another similar situation with O’Reilly.