Bill O'Reilly | Media Matters for America

Bill O'Reilly

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  • The right-wing media figures defending Sean Hannity’s relationship with Michael Cohen

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media figures are jumping to defend Fox News host Sean Hannity after it was revealed that Hannity has been a client of longtime lawyer to President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen. Hannity’s defenders are suggesting that he has “been victimized” by the revelation of his name, claiming that he “wasn’t engaging” Cohen “as a lawyer,” and even arguing that Hannity possibly “did not know he was a client of Michael Cohen."

  • Fox & Friends is teaming up for an event with Bill O’Reilly at Trump Hotel

    Update: The Fox & Friends tour has been removed from the event's website

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    UPDATE (4:46 p.m.): A Fox spokesperson told Erik Wemple, “We had no knowledge of this and we are not allowing Fox & Friends to be part of any donation package.” Additionally, Nick Adams denied that Hegseth was involved, telling Wemple, “FLAG acted on our own. The wording on the website was an honest mistake. The moment FLAG became aware of it, we took action to correct it.”

    UPDATE (1:02 p.m.): The Fox & Friends tour has been removed from the event website.

    Former Fox host Bill O’Reilly announced that he was appearing at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on April 21 for “An Evening With Bill O’Reilly.” The event is being sponsored by the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness (FLAG), founded by Nick Adams, a regular on Fox News.

    Ticket prices for the event start at $500, according to the event page. However, patrons who give contributions of more than $5,000 are rewarded with an “invitation to behind the scenes tour of Fox & Friends on April 18 unveiling the Students’ Declaration of Independence.”

    Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth is on the board of FLAG, along with prominent right-wing figures including former Rep. Allen West (R-FL), radio host Dennis Prager, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, and CNN’s Steve Cortes.

    Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News a year ago in the wake of reports about multiple sexual harassment settlements involving him. He returned to Fox News in September as a guest of host Sean Hannity. He has also recently been credited as executive producer of the network’s historical series Legends and Lies.

  • Revelations from Bill O'Reilly's settlements underscore how Fox News enables its sexual harassers

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On April 3, a federal judge denied a motion by former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to seal settlement agreements made with women who say he sexually harassed them. According to CNN, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs said the terms of the agreements include requiring one of the women to lie -- even under oath -- and levying what CNN called “onerous” penalties to enforce the agreement. The agreements are yet more evidence of the toxic, enabling culture at Fox News, which reportedly helped O’Reilly sweep these accusations under the rug.

    O’Reilly’s reported sexual harassment and abuse are now well-documented. The former Fox star was fired from the network after advertisers fled his show following a New York Times report that he had paid out at least $13 million to five women. It was later revealed that O’Reilly paid another woman $32 million to halt a sexual harassment lawsuit.

    But O’Reilly did not act alone; he was enabled by Fox News, which has a long history of protecting sexual harassers and abusers and which has a culture described by one former employee as a “sex-fueled, Playboy mansion-like cult steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” And, according to the Times, when one of O’Reilly’s accusers filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, “Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly adopted an aggressive strategy that served as a stark warning of what could happen to women if they came forward with complaints. … Before [former Fox producer Andrea] Mackris even filed suit, Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly surprised her with a pre-emptive suit of their own.”

    Here are details about some of the terms of that settlement Fox allegedly helped O’Reilly secure, as reported by CNN:

    The judge's ruling means that certain terms of the settlements are coming to light for the first time. A motion filed Wednesday by Neil Mullin and Nancy Erika Smith, the attorneys representing the three plaintiffs, claims that the settlement reached with Andrea Mackris, a former Fox News producer who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against O'Reilly in 2004, required her to "lie -- even in legal proceedings or under oath -- if any evidence becomes public, by calling evidence 'counterfeit' or 'forgeries.'"

    The potential penalties etched in the settlements were particularly onerous. If Mackris goes public about the details of the settlement, the agreement stated that she "shall return all sums paid under this Agreement, forfeit any future payments due under this Agreement, disgorge to O'Reilly the value of any benefit earned or received as a result of such disclosure, and pay to O'Reilly all reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred by O'Reilly in attempting to enforce this Agreement."

    The filing asserts that Mackris' attorney, Benedict Morelli, switched sides and agreed to become O'Reilly's lawyer while negotiating the agreement.

    "This profoundly unethical conflict left Ms. Mackris virtually without legal counsel," the filing said.

    Morelli disputed those assertions in a statement.

    "We worked extremely hard to secure a significant financial settlement for her (Mackris)," he said. "The claim that I did not vigorously represent her, or that I represented O'Reilly during or after the settlement process, is absolutely false."

    This post has been updated with Morelli's statement.

  • Right-wing media figures have led Trump's purge of Department of Justice officials they perceive as threatening

    Here’s who they have left

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & GRACE BENNETT

    Right-wing media have consistently lined up behind Donald Trump to defend him against any and all allegations regarding Russian interference in the presidential election. Led primarily by Fox News and primetime host Sean Hannity, right-wing media figures have denounced, undermined, or maligned Department of Justice and FBI officials involved in the broader Russia investigation since it began. 

  • Newsmax is airing Bill O'Reilly's hot takes on Trump's State of the Union address

    Serial sexual harasser to give commentary on speech by man who has openly bragged about committing sexual assault 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Conservative outlet Newsmax will be hosting disgraced serial sexual predator Bill O’Reilly to “provide in-depth analysis” of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address tomorrow night.

    Newsmax announced on January 29 that O’Reilly will provide “live analysis” for Tuesday’s address by Trump -- with whom he has much in common -- on its Newsmax TV channel. In its press release, Newsmax CEO and close Trump friend Chris Ruddy said that O’Reilly’s “frank, no-holds-barred analysis is needed in American media more than ever.”  

    O’Reilly has settled at least six legal claims related to workplace sexual harassment over the course of 15 years, including one extremely notable settlement with former Fox analyst Lis Wiehl amounting to a whopping $32 million.

    After O’Reilly departed from Fox News following The New York Timesinitial reporting on the settlements in April 2017, he was largely and rightfully relegated to recording audio and video clips in his home office for his personal website. And his handful of media appearances in recent months have illustrated exactly how little his “analysis” is needed.

    In September, O’Reilly sat down with former Today show host Matt Lauer -- with whom he also has much in common -- and personally attacked one of the women who came forward about his harassment.

    And, to underscore the complete moral bankruptcy of Fox News and Sean Hannity, O’Reilly has several times appeared on Hannity’s radio show and on his Fox News show, sometimes to launch similar attacks. O’Reilly even appeared in person in the studio at Fox News, possibly sharing a space with women who’d been subjected to his harassment. (Fox heavily promoted O’Reilly’s return to its airwaves with zero shame about the number of women who’ve suffered at the hands of the network.)

    According to Ruddy, who has openly and proudly discussed courting O’Reilly before and has given him airtime already, this is the man whose analysis America needs “now more than ever.”

    Meanwhile, several lawmakers are planning to bring guests at the State of the Union who’ve spoken out about sexual harassment and assault. Will O’Reilly have anything to say about them?

  • Rupert Murdoch says Fox News harassment stopped with Roger Ailes. He couldn't be more wrong. 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News executive chairman Rupert Murdoch reportedly said in a Sky interview that the network’s ongoing culture of sexual harassment was actually “all nonsense” and consisted simply of “isolated incidents.” Murdoch further asserted that the harassment at Fox was only perpetrated by former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, and “there’s been nothing else since then.”

    Ailes was first publicly named for serial harassment in July 2016 when former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit detailing how Ailes and Steve Doocy -- the current co-host of Fox & Friends -- made “sexually-charged comments” and were “sexist and condescending” toward her, respectively. The lawsuit also said Ailes made “demands for sex as a way to improve her job standing.” At least 25 women have come forward with stories of Ailes’ misconduct and harassment. Ailes resigned 2 weeks later. Ailes’ pattern of behavior, spanning at least a decade, seems far worse than a series of “isolated incidents.”

    What’s more, since Ailes’ departure on July 21, 2016:

    • The New York Times reported that (now former) Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and/or Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox had made at least six settlements for sexual misconduct -- including one for an astounding $32 million.
    • Fox suspended and conducted an internal investigation into Fox Business host Charles Payne after frequent Fox guest Scottie Nell Hughes reported that Payne had coerced her into a years-long relationship “under threat of reprisals." Payne was later cleared by the internal investigation, but is now named in a lawsuit from Hughes alleging rape and retaliation by Payne.
    • Fox News suspended, then “part[ed] ways amicably” with co-host Eric Bolling amid an investigation into claims he sent “unsolicited photos of male genitalia to current and former female colleagues at the network.”
    • Newsweek wrote about public reports of misconduct by Fox News co-host Juan Williams when he worked at The Washington Post. Fox News hired him years after the harassment claims were public.
    • A video of Bette Midler’s interview with Barbara Walters in 1991 resurfaced in which Midler described Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera assaulting her. Midler shared the video herself, and reiterated her story, also saying Rivera never apologized. The video’s resurfacing coincided with Rivera publicly defending reported harassment and assault by former NBC host Matt Lauer. The following day, Fox News said it was “troubled” by Rivera’s comments and Rivera later tweeted apologies about his statements, as well as a (sort-of) apology to Midler.

    So it sure seems like there’s been some other things since Ailes left!

    This isn’t the first time lately Fox has tried to congratulate itself on handling sexual harassment complaints lately. It’s just the most bizarre.

  • Sean Hannity's extensive history of undermining women who report sexual misconduct and defending the men accused

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE, JULIE ALDERMAN & DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News host Sean Hannity has become a reliable ally for powerful men accused of sexual assault and harassment, regularly using his platform to discredit women who report sexual misconduct and cast doubt on their complaints. Here is a look back on the ways Hannity has attempted to undermine these women and defend the men who have been reported.

    Roy Moore

    Eight women have said Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, a former judge of Alabama Supreme Court, sexually harassed or assaulted them, or had relations with them, when they were teenagers. The Washington Post first reported on November 9 that Leigh Corfman was 14 years old when Moore made sexual advancements toward her, and a number of women have since come forward with similar claims.

    Hannity: Many women who report sexual harassment “will lie to make money.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “Then you have false allegations that are made, and -- how do you determine? It's ‘He said, she [said].’" [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “How do you know if it's true? How do we -- what's true? What's not true? How do you ascertain the truth?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “We do have Ten Commandments. One of the commandments is ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’ We know human beings break, with regularity, the other nine commandments. Did they break this one?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “But then also, are there false allegations? And when it's ‘he said, she said’ or whatever, how do you tell the difference?” [Premiere Radio Networks, Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity invoked the Duke Lacrosse team case; Michael Brown, who was shot by a white cop in Ferguson, MO; George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin; and Freddie Gray, who was killed in police custody to suggest there’s a history of accusers lying. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: The “swamp,” “the sewer,” and the “establishment” are out to get Moore. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: The Wash. Post “hates anything Republican, anything conservative.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Roger Ailes

    In July 2016, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, the now-deceased former Fox News CEO, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against her when she would not have “a sexual relationship with him.” An additional 25 women also came forward with similar accusations. Reports later detailed startling revelations of Ailes’ attempts to cover up his sexual misconduct by spying on employees and silencing his accusers.

    Hannity to Carlson: “Why did you stay after such ‘harassment’ asking for more airtime?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Hannity about Carlson: “Why did [Carlson] send handwritten notes with smiley faces asking for more airtime after the ‘alleged’ traumatic incident?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Hannity attacked accusations levied by Carlson as coming from a “publicity seeking” attorney. [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity: “Hundreds of woman (sic) at Fox that I talked to” said all allegations against Ailes are “BS.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity: “I have spoken to many woman (sic) who work at Fox that have the most amazing stories of how kind Roger is to them.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity to Gabriel Sherman who reported on Ailes: “U r an Ailes and Fox stalker.” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Donald Trump

    In 2016, at least 20 women accused then-candidate Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. In October 2016, The Washington Post reported on a video clip in which a hot microphone caught Trump bragging to Billy Bush, then of Access Hollywood, “in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women.”

    Hannity shrugged off accusations against Trump, arguing, “King David had 500 concubines for crying out loud!” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/7/16]

    Hannity suggested that one of Trump’s accusers may have “welcome[d]” the sexual assault.  [Media Matters, 10/13/16]

    Hannity mocked one of Trump's accusers: “Donald Trump groped me on a plane. It was all right for the first 15 minutes, but then he went too far.” [Media Matters, 10/14/17]

    Hannity on Trump accusers: “Just saying ‘help’ would solve the problem.” [Media Matters, 10/20/17]

    Hannity called accusations of sexual assault against Trump “an attempt to neutralize the WikiLeaks revelations,” referring to the stories generated from hacked Democratic emails.  [Media Matters, 10/13/16]

    Bill O’Reilly

    On April 1, The New York Times reported that former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, paid out at least $13 million in settlements with five women who said O’Reilly harassed them.

    Hannity gave O’Reilly a platform on his shows multiple times to attack the women who reported him. [Media Matters, 9/26/17, 10/5/17]

    Hannity hosted disgraced former Fox host O’Reilly after he was fired from the network. [Media Matters, 9/25/17]

    Clarence Thomas

    In 1991, Anita Hill, who worked as a former aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his time at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “submitted a confidential statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee alleging that Thomas had sexually harassed her 10 years earlier,” according to CBS News. At least two other women also accused Thomas of sexual assault.

    While interviewing Thomas, Hannity referred to his accusers as “those that systematically went about destroying you.” [FoxNews.com, 10/3/07]

    Hannity implied that Thomas was “an innocent man” who had had “his reputation destroyed forever.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/10/17]

    Hannity has praised Thomas for “giving one of the most powerful defenses” against sexual assault accusations. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/10/17]

    Herman Cain

    In 2011, at least two women reported that Herman Cain, who was at the time a candidate in the Republican presidential primaries, had sexually harased them during his tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

    Under a screen graphic that read “Herman hysteria,” Hannity questioned whether the charges were “politically motivated,” and badgered an accuser for “staying in the car” with Cain after she says she was harassed. [Media Matters, 11/11/11]

    Hannity sought to discredit accusations against Cain and Justice Clarence Thomas, parroting their characterization of the charges as a “high-tech lynching.” [Politico, 11/10/11]

    Hannity on Cain’s press conference denying sexual harassment accusations: “You would think this is going to end it.” [Media Matters 11/9/11]

    Bill Shine

    After Ailes was ousted in August 2016 amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, Fox News promoted Bill Shine to co-president of the network. As senior executive vice president, Shine had reportedly “played an integral role” in covering up sexual harassment claims, including those against Ailes. Shine had a role in pushing “women into confidential mediation [and into] signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid” as well as in establishing a “counter-narrative” to discredit Carlson. He later resigned after reports surfaced that he was cited “in at least four lawsuits” that accused him of ignoring, dismissing, and even concealing sexual harassment allegations against Ailes.

    Hannity: “Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]

    Hannity: If Shine is fired, “that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]

    Hannity: “#Istandwithshine.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]

  • Fox’s Shannon Bream has a new show and a history of spreading misinformation about abortion

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On October 30, Fox News’ Shannon Bream debuted the evening program Fox News @ Night. The show was new, but one thing stayed the same: Bream’s commitment to misinforming about abortion.

    As Mic noted, Bream’s program represents a “departure from a longtime tradition” of playing reruns of other “popular primetime shows” during the 11 p.m. hour. Bream herself has attempted to brand her program as “straight news, not opinion” and claimed the program “will be straight down the middle.” In reality, Bream has a long history of presenting misleading reporting about a number of reproductive rights topics -- and if the first episode of Fox News @ Night is any indication, having her own program won’t change anything. 

    For example, long after the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood were discredited, Bream gave CMP founder David Daleiden an unchallenged platform to push misinformation. Before that, Bream had played frequent validator for CMP’s claims -- going so far as to anchor a Fox News special on its content, titled Planned Parenthood: The Hidden Harvest. Beyond her emphasis on CMP’s inaccurate contentions, Bream also has a tendency to cite polls commissioned by anti-choice groups to suggest a lack of public support for abortion access. 

    In back-to-back segments during the October 30 edition, Bream also hosted NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to discuss a recent case involving the Trump administration’s denial of an abortion to an undocumented minor being held in federal custody. According to BuzzFeed, the minor (referred to as Jane Doe) did not ask for “the government to pay for the procedure or arrange the transportation” -- in fact, as Politico reported, she had already “obtained the money” for the procedure. Nevertheless, Fox News’ coverage of the case has focused on a made-up idea that taxpayers should be outraged about the possibility of funding abortions for undocumented immigrants like Doe -- an offshoot of the debunked, but oft-repeated, right-wing myth of so-called “taxpayer-funded abortion.” (In fact, no taxpayer money may go to abortions under the Hyde Amendment.)

    During the first segment, Bream not only pressed Hogue on a series of anti-choice talking points about the case (including the myth of taxpayer-funded abortion), but also directly channeled the concerns of anti-abortion groups. In one instance, after Hogue noted that opponents of Doe’s abortion want to “put Roe [v. Wade] on trial through this case,” Bream interjected that what she “heard from a lot of pro-life groups is they were worried this is Roe v. Wade 2.0.” Bream continued that these anti-abortion groups were concerned that Doe’s case was “not just about abortion, but it’s now encouraging -- they think -- in some ways, people coming here from other countries where maybe they can’t get an abortion.”

    Bream’s comment about having “heard from a lot of pro-life groups” is unsurprising. In but one example, the afternoon before Bream’s program debuted, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, tweeted that Bream is a “friend” and that she “covers Life issues with fearlessness and fairness.”

    The Fox prime-time lineup has seen a lot of change over the past year. Following the ouster of Bill O’Reilly for numerous reports of sexual harassment (and more recent news of further settlements still), the network was forced to make changes to its evening talent. As a result, white nationalist golden boy and serial anti-abortion misinformer Tucker Carlson scored a prime-time spot -- a platform he has used to host anti-abortion activists and present their allegations in a way that appeals to his extremist base. In September, after Fox was forced to fire prime-time host Eric Bolling (again for reports of sexual harassment), the network announced Fox News @ Night, hosted by Bream at 11 p.m., and another program, The Ingraham Angle, hosted by longtime contributor Laura Ingraham (who has her own history of spreading misinformation about abortion).

    As Variety reported, Fox executives are hopeful that the addition of Ingraham and Bream will finally “cap a flurry of schedule changes” that audiences have endured over the past year. And although Bream has pitched her show as one that “will focus heavily on politics and events in Washington” -- a choice that one media professor told Variety will offer viewers “news, not more punditry” -- audiences shouldn’t be fooled.

    If the chyron previewing the abortion-related segment during the October 30 premier is any indication, Bream’s coverage of reproductive rights topics will be more of the same Fox News xenophobia and bluster: