Fox host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed he did not previously comment about the sexual harassment allegations against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Ailes was forced to resign in July following sexual harassment allegations by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson and at least 25 other women. 21st Century Fox has since reached a $20 million settlement with Carlson. Discussing Ailes' departure on NBC's Today, O'Reilly claimed in July he had only made comments “about what kind of a boss Roger Ailes was, not about the case,” adding, “I don't know anything about the case, OK?” In fact, during a previous interview with NBC's Seth Meyers, O’Reilly compared Carlson's allegations to a “frivolous lawsuit,” lamented the fact we live in an “out of control tabloid society” where “every famous, powerful, or wealthy person is a target,” and said, “I stand behind Roger 100 percent.” As The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple previously noted, Ailes and O'Reilly have a history of defending each other from scandals. When there were allegations that O’Reilly “either embellished or told falsehoods or outright lied about various reporting exploits,” Ailes issued a statement saying he “and all senior management are in full support of Bill O’Reilly.” O'Reilly was also not asked about sexual harassment allegations from former Fox host Andrea Tantaros. From the September 13 edition of NBC's Today:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (CO-HOST): We have to ask you about what's been going on at Fox News. Obviously Roger Ailes is no longer there in the wake of these sexual harassment allegations and revelations. You've been on record saying you support him 100 percent, but have you learned anything in these last few months that makes you change your mind about that? People like Geraldo [Rivera] or Greta Van Susteren have said, “In light of what I've learned, I feel differently.”
BILL O'REILLY: Well, first of all, my comments were made to Seth Meyers about what kind of a boss Roger Ailes was, not about the case. I don't know anything about the case, OK? Nothing. So he was a good boss, best boss I've ever had, and that's what I said to Seth Meyers. That's all I've said. And I'm not going to say anything else because I work for this company and I don't really have any insight into anything, so for once in my life I'm going to keep my big mouth shut.
WILLIE GEIST (CO-HOST): Has the culture changed or has your job changed at all since Roger Ailes left? Is it a different place?
O'REILLY: No. We do the exact same thing if you watch the Factor every night, there's been no change. We do what we do. I've been doing it for 20 years.
GEIST: He's so synonymous with that place though, Bill. Does it feel different when you walk in the building there?
O'REILLY: I don't walk in the building a lot. I do a lot of my work in a separate place. And it's a sad situation for everyone involved and that's all I'm going to say.
GUTHRIE: And you keep in touch with him?
O'REILLY: That's -- Roger Ailes was very good to me and I feel very bad for his family, that's it.
Here is O'Reilly speaking with Meyers in July:
SETH MEYERS (HOST): Gretchen Carlson, your old colleague at Fox News, has issued some allegations, some sexual harassment allegations, over your boss Roger Ailes. What is your position on this, or what did you think when you heard this?
BILL O’REILLY: Well, I think it’s a very sad situation, number one. And I’m just going to say this about it. I’ve worked for Roger Ailes for 20 years, right. Best boss I’ve ever had. Straight shooter, always honest with me. And I believe that over the years, he’s been in the business for 50 years, 95 percent of the people who have worked for Roger Ailes would say exactly the same thing that I just told you. In this country, every famous, powerful, or wealthy person is a target. You’re a target, I’m a target. Anytime, somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press, or anything like that. Until Amer -- and that’s a deplorable situation because I have to have bodyguards. I have to hire bodyguards, physical bodyguards, all right? Until the United States adopts the British system of civil law, whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs. Until we adopt that very fair proposition, we’re going to have this out of control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive. I stand behind Roger 100 percent.