For a man who has lost his job and a great deal of credibility over revelations of millions paid to settle claims of sexual and verbal harassment, Bill O’Reilly has had a particularly rough 24 hours.
During a tense and sometimes profane sit-down with two New York Times reporters released Monday morning, O’Reilly invoked the dead son of a former Fox News colleague as evidence that reporting on the sexual-harassment claims made against him is harmful.
“I urge you to think about what you put in the newspaper,” O’Reilly told Times reporters Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt during an interview posted on “The Daily” podcast. “Eric Bolling’s son is dead. He’s dead because of allegations made — in my opinion, and I know this to be true — against Mr. Bolling.”
Bolling, who was fired by Fox after an investigation into claims of sexual harassment, responded that it was “beyond inappropriate” for O’Reilly to bring up the death of his son, adding that “my parting from Fox News was in no way connected to the tragic news of my son’s passing.”
Bolling also said a coroner indicated his son’s death was an accident and not linked to the accusations made against his father, leading O’Reilly to quickly backtrack.
Apologies to Eric Bolling and prayers for him and his family. The message I tried to send was that allegations harm kids. Nothing more.
— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) October 23, 2017
Monday night, in his No Spin News webcast available to premium subscribers on his website, O’Reilly continued to fight the allegations against him, even going so far as to criticize God.
“You know, am I mad at God?” O’Reilly asked. “Yeah, I’m mad at him. I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn’t happen.”
Throughout the program, O’Reilly denied the harassment allegations, despite $45 million in payouts to six former Fox News personalities to settle claims of sexual and verbal assault. On Friday, the New York Times reported on the latest, a $32 million payout to former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl, which the network made before re-signing O’Reilly to a four-year contract.
O’Reilly claimed the Times reported that settlement only because of the success of his web series and the sales of his latest book, Killing England. The Times’ first story in April led to his ouster from the network.
“So they came back with another bunch of garbage. I talked to them this time just to see the devil that I was dealing with,” O’Reilly said. “And I truly believe that these people at the New York Times are out to hurt people with whom they disagree. They don’t want me in the marketplace. That’s what this is all about.”
Despite O’Reilly’s ouster, the death of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, and a new system at the company for reporting and dealing with harassment allegations (which led to the firing of Bolling and former Fox Sports head Jamie Horowitz), Fox News continues grapple with the aftermath of having turned a blind eye to sexual-harassment claims for years.
The news also comes as regulators have yet to approve 21st Century Fox’s bid to take full control of the European satellite television giant Sky, a deal that is reportedly worth $15 billion. According to Hollywood Reporter editor Paul Bond, “every new tidbit involving sexual misconduct at the conglomerate’s Fox News cash cow inches them closer to squashing the transaction.”