Bill O’Reilly is now directing his anger at God and the dishonest media for his misfortunes after the New York Times published a story Saturday reporting that the former “O’Reilly Factor” host reached a $32 million settlement agreement with former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl in January of 2016.
The Times reported that Ms. Wiehl’s complaints against O’Reilly included “repeated harassment [and] a nonconsensual sexual relationship,” and that 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, was aware of her complaints against him but regarded the matter as a private dispute between Wiehl and O’Reilly.
This settlement deal came one month before 21st Century Fox renewed O’Reilly’s contract last February, bumping his annual pay from $18 million to $25 million. On April 1, 2017, the Times, not yet aware of the $32 million payout, ran an article outlining how sexual harassment complaints against O’Reilly had led to $13 million in payments to five women since 2002. Less than three weeks later, O’Reilly was fired.
This latest article brings the total to six women and $45 million.
Since his firing, the combative conservative commentator has neither apologized nor backed down. “This is crap, and you know it,” he told the Times.
In place of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox, he has started a new web series, “No Spin News, “on his new website, BillOReilly.com. The latest story on the site is currently O’Reilly’s response to “the Recent New York Times Hit Piece.” The article itself is behind a paywall, but a statement from Mark Fabiani, the famed crisis communications specialist who shepherded the Clinton administration through various scandals and took up O’Reilly’s cause earlier this year, is free to view.
“Once again, the New York Times has maliciously smeared Bill O’Reilly, this time even failing to print a sworn affidavit from his former lawyer, Lis Wiehl, repudiating all allegations against Bill O’Reilly,” Fabiani wrote. I’m not sure which Times article he read, but the article does specifically mention and quote the affidavit, which reads exactly like the sort of insincere, boilerplate document that would accompany any settlement.
Among those rejecting O’Reilly’s protestations of innocence is Megyn Kelly, who worked alongside O’Reilly at Fox before departing for NBC earlier this year. She noted the size of his $32 million settlement with Ms. Wiehl, saying that such a huge payment was “a jaw-dropping figure,” far too large to be a “nuisance settlement.” She also revealed that she herself had complained about O’Reilly’s misconduct while at Fox News.
O’Reilly continues to insist that he made those payouts to protect his children from being dragged into the spotlight and that the media has a personal vendetta against him. “If they could literally kill me, they would,” he said after the publication of the most recent Times article.
His self-pity and blame-mongering may be persuasive to some, but an application of Occam’s Razor, which states that the simplest explanation is usually the best, tells another story. Which is easier to believe? That all six of the women who made sexual harassment allegations against him, as well as the entire mainstream media and the 21st Century Fox officials who confirmed the stories, are part of a liberal plot to suppress his message stretching back to at least 2002? Or that he actually sexually harassed those women?
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this sort of paranoiac persecution complex from O’Reilly. Hell, back in 1998 he wrote a whole novel about a disgraced newsman going on a killing spree.
At this point, O’Reilly, the champion of traditional family values, has only two options: admit that he’s a hypocrite or cast himself as an unfairly maligned prophet being driven into the wilderness. Watch the eight minutes of excessive mutual backslapping and media-bashing that pervades his appearance on Sean Hannity’s show last month, and it quickly becomes apparent which path he’s chosen.
If the recent rash of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, one of the Democratic Party’s most prolific donors, tells us anything about O’Reilly’s situation, it’s that sexual harassment or assault allegations are more than just a smear tactic employed by powerful liberals against conservatives like O’Reilly.
Sometimes, it’s worth being skeptical, but in this case, O’Reilly doth protest too much.