Vanity Fair's Gabe Sherman explains how Bill O'Reilly “plays the victim” to dismiss reports of his $32 million sexual harassment settlement

From the October 24 edition of MSNBC's MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle:

Video file

ALI VELSHI (CO-HOST): Gabe, NBC News has not been able to verify the Times’ report about this latest settlement, the $32 million settlement. What do you know about this? The only thing we seem to know is that anybody who knows anything about settlements, particularly from individuals versus public companies, thinks that this is a remarkable number if true.

GABRIEL SHERMAN: Yeah, without question. I have a source inside 21st Century Fox, the parent company, who is making the case that they did not know the number. All they knew when they re-signed Bill O’Reilly earlier this year was that he had made a settlement and it was confidential. But that raises a larger question. If your biggest star is making an out of court sexual harassment settlement to make a claim go away, you would really want to ask tough questions and think twice --

VELSHI: Know some details.

SHERMAN: And clearly they made the business decision that they wanted to go through with re-signing him and face the repercussions if it did become public.

VELSHI: Which, by the way, is a final sentence you can use for a lot of things that are happening these days. Bill O'Reilly saying that people are trying to capitalize on the Harvey Weinstein scandal and that this is political in nature. Do we know anything about the motivation for this news coming out at this point?

SHERMAN: No. Without question. And this is a classic O'Reilly technique is to cast dispersions on people, unnamed people with unnamed allegations. This is -- He plays the victim. This is what he did every night so successfully on his number one rated Fox show. And this is what he's doing to try to gin up support from his fans that he is being persecuted. But what we do know is that there was a multi-million dollar -- as the Times reported -- a $32 million dollar settlement out of court to make the sexual harassment claim go away. Those facts speak for themselves, and O'Reilly can talk whatever he wants to get out of it. But that does not make the fact he settled this shocking number out of court.

VELSHI: One of the other things that Bill O'Reilly keeps saying in every interview is that no one has complained to HR or legal. Is that a technicality?

SHERMAN: Oh yeah, that's a classic dodge, because as I've reported numerous times inside Fox News, the HR department was seen as the personal fiefdom of Roger Ailes. It was not an independent body where employees felt safe.

VELSHI: It's not where you would go if this happened.

SHERMAN: No. Everyone knew that Roger Ailes had a spy inside HR who would report back to him any time an employee made a claim that would make the company look bad. No one felt comfortable, that I've interviewed, going inside HR to make a claim, especially against Bill O'Reilly given how powerful he was.


The worst of Bill O’Reilly’s on-air denigration and harassment of Lis Wiehl

Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik highlights how the Murdoch sons kept O'Reilly despite $32 million sexual harassment settlement

Megyn Kelly calls out Bill O'Reilly's lie that no one ever complained about his behavior

Bill O'Reilly tells Glenn Beck he blames NY Times, CNN, and Media Matters for a “hit job” against him