Bill O’Reilly waited until two New York Times reporters turned off their recording devices to lay into them over a story about a secret $32 million settlement he reached with former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl over allegations of sexual harassment.
“We have physical proof that this is bulls-! Bulls-! OK?” O’Reilly yelled at Washington correspondent Michael S. Schmidt after a sit-down interview with Schmidt and business reporter Emily Steel. “So,it’s on if you want to destroy my children further. Because it’s all crap!”
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 23, 2017
The audio was released on Monday’s edition of the Times podcast The Daily. O’Reilly, his lawyer, and Wiehl did not respond to a request for comment. O’Reilly was fired in April, after the Times reported that Fox News had paid five women a total of $13 million to keep quiet about harassment allegations. The recent article, posted Friday night, reported previously undisclosed allegations.
Steel and Schmidt sat down with O’Reilly on the condition that their interview would be on the record. They recorded most of the interview, which took place at the office of O’Reilly’s lawyer, on a device to capture high-quality audio for the podcast. After Schmidt turned the device off, the two reporters were still recording with their smartphones, and they captured an angry O’Reilly letting loose at Schmidt.
“It’s at that point that he gets as animated as I’ve ever seen anyone in any type interview that I’ve ever been in,” Schmidt said.
“Why don’t you be human beings for once?” O’Reilly asked.
“It’s almost like you can feel the vibrations in your own chest,” Steel recalled.
“This is crap, and you know it. It’s politically and financially motivated, and we can prove it with shocking information!” O’Reilly insisted. “But I’m not going to sit there in a courtroom for a year and a half and let my kids get beaten up every single day of their lives by a tabloid press that would sit there, and you know it.”
According to the Times report, Wiehl alleged that O’Reilly engaged in “a nonconsensual sexual relationship” with her, repeatedly harassed her, and messaged her sexually explicit material, including gay pornography.
In an affidavit from January that was released over the weekend, which Wiehl signed as part of her settlement, she said she was acting as O’Reilly’s counsel when he forwarded her the explicit emails, apparently in an attempt to seek legal advice.
“Leaks are not facts. Leaks are designed to hurt people,” O’Reilly told the Times reporters. “It’s been a horrendous experience. I’ve never had one complaint filed against me by a coworker in any human resources department in 43 years. That encompasses 12 different companies. So all of a sudden, this stuff happens, and the pain it brings to my children is indescribable.”
O’Reilly’s former colleague Gretchen Carlson slammed Fox News for signing the host to a four-year contract despite the various settlements and allegations.
“It’s horrifying and outrageous that any company, after dismissing somebody for allegations such as that, would not only re-sign a contract but allow that person to come back on the air,” Carlson told CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter.
Carlson was paid $20 million after suing Fox News in July 2016 over allegations that former CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed her. In a statement, 21st Century Fox said it was aware of Wiehl’s allegations against O’Reilly when the company signed him to a new contract in February but unaware of the dollar amount.
“His new contract, which was made at a time typical for renewals of multiyear talent contracts, added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment, including that O’Reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation,” the statement said. “The company subsequently acted based on the terms of this contract.”
O’Reilly left Fox News with a $25 million settlement and denied any wrongdoing.
“This is covering up, this is enablers, this is shutting up the victims,” Carlson said. “I think it’s absolutely horrifying that we’ve allowed this to go on for so long in our corporate culture.”
On Friday, O’Reilly indicated we would hear more from his side on Monday.
My investigative team has done a superb job in exposing the lies and smear. I will speak with you on Monday.
— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) October 21, 2017