Ex-partner of O'Reilly accuser recounts Fox's attempted cover-up of sexual harassment allegations

O'Reilly has recently used Sean Hannity's platform to continue the attack on women who speak up

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Michael Panter, the former partner of a woman who settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly (and signed a nondisclosure agreement), revealed on October 24 that during her employment at the network, someone who he believed was the head of Fox’s human resource or legal department had called her and requested that she speak with O’Reilly about a “sensitive matter.” A few minutes later, according to Panter, O’Reilly called the woman to explain that “a new accuser was suing him for sexual harassment” and asked Panter’s then-partner for any information “we ‘can use against her.’” The information O’Reilly was seeking included anything about “her sex life,” whether she “used illegal drugs,” or her “financial situation and marriage.”

Fox News fired O’Reilly in April after news broke of multiple sexual harassment settlements reached with at least six women over the years. But, in September, he was invited back for a heavily promoted appearance on Sean Hannity’s show, which O’Reilly used to publicize his most recent book. A week before, the increasingly reckless Hannity had invited O’Reilly onto his radio show, where he helped O’Reilly attack and threaten the women who reported him for sexual harassment, as O'Reilly warned his smear attempt was “the first of many that we’re going to have for the American people.”

Panter wrote in his Facebook post that “in essence, the leadership of Fox, including their ‘HR’ head/counsel and O’Reilly, who held my ex’s career in their hands (and whom O’Reilly was also harassing) was demanding information to attack another victim.” This revelation, in addition to the recent report that 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, had renewed O’Reilly’s contract earlier this year, even though the company had knowledge of a sexual harassment settlement O’Reilly had reached with one of his colleagues, is further evidence of what O'Reilly’s recent appearance on the network made clear: Fox was never serious about fixing its toxic culture, and, in fact, went to great lengths to help O’Reilly smear anyone who spoke out against his sexual predation. As is apparent from his post-firing appearances on the network, unaccountability remains. From the October 24 Facebook post:

UPDATE: Mediaite has reported that O'Reilly “plans to commence legal action against” Panter. According to Mediaite, O'Reilly's attorney provided a statement that claimed Panter's Facebook post was  “completely contrived, false and defamatory, aimed at hurting Bill O’Reilly and his family.”