In the first two days after each story broke, Fox devoted four times as much on-air coverage to the New York Times' initial article about film producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment settlements as the network dedicated to a recent New York Times report on a sexual harassment settlement between then-Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and the channel’s former legal analyst Lis Wiehl.
In an October 21 report, The New York Times detailed that 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, “began contract negotiations” with O’Reilly even though the company knew that O’Reilly had reached a settlement with Wiehl after she sent him “a draft of a lawsuit she was threatening to file outlining her allegations of sexual harassment.” According to the Times, Wiehl said that O’Reilly had engaged in “repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her.” This report comes after O’Reilly was fired from Fox in April amid an advertiser boycott following another Times story reporting that $13 million had been paid to five women who had come forward with allegations of harassment against O’Reilly.
In the two days after the story surfaced, Fox spent merely 5 minutes and 23 seconds on the newest report of its former employee’s despicable behavior, all of them during a single segment on the October 22 edition of MediaBuzz.
In contrast, after the Times began reporting on October 5 about settlements related to the dozens of women who said that Weinstein had sexually harassed them, Fox spent 22 minutes and 28 seconds discussing the story across nine separate segments over the next two days.
For years, Fox News has enabled the culture of sexual harassment behind the scenes. It is not surprising then that the network has been reluctant to cover women who have come forward to report harassment at the hands of their superiors, and that even after firing O’Reilly in April, Fox continues to provide him with a platform and welcome him at the network.
Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “O’Reilly” between 12 p.m. on October 21 -- the day The New York Times report on O’Reilly was released -- and 12 p.m. on October 23 for significant discussions of the report. Media Matters also searched SnapStream for mentions of “Weinstein” between 12 p.m. on October 5 -- the day The New York Times report on Weinstein was released -- and 12 p.m. on October 7. Repeated segments were not counted. Teasers for upcoming segments were also not counted.
We defined a “significant discussion” as one of the following:
- a segment where the report on O’Reilly or the report on Weinstein was the stated topic of discussion;
- a segment in which two or more speakers discussed one of the reports; or
- a host monologue during which one of the reports was the stated topic of discussion.
Chart by Sarah Wasko.