Bill O'Reilly uses Today show appearance to attack a woman who reported him for sexual harassment

Bill O'Reilly uses Today show appearance to attack a woman who reported him for sexual harassment

O'Reilly uses appearance to dissemble about claims against him, deny responsibility, and claim no knowledge of multiple settlements over reports of sexual harassment

Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

From the September 19 edition of NBC's Today​:

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MATT LAUER (CO-HOST): What was the exact reason you were given, or your representatives were given, by people at Fox News for your firing?

BILL O'REILLY: There was no reason. They had a contractual clause that they could pay me a certain amount of money and not put me on the air. And they exercised that clause.

LAUER: But why did they exercise that? What was the reason they said they were exercising that?

O'REILLY: There was a sponsor boycott engineered by Media Matters, the radical left group. And the sponsor boycott unsettled some people at Fox News.

LAUER: You were accused of sexual harassment. You said at the time you did absolutely nothing wrong. 

O'REILLY: Correct.

LAUER: Do you stand by that?

O'REILLY: I do.

LAUER: And so did you provide Fox News any evidence, any information that you think could have change their mind as to what you were guilty or not guilty of?

O'REILLY: My legal team was very aggressive in putting forth our point of view. And that's all I'm going to say about it.

LAUER: You -- I want to put this in perspective, timing-wise. You were fired about 10 months after [former Fox chairman] Roger Ailes was let go --

O'REILLY: Correct.

LAUER: -- by the network over allegations of sexual harassment. So the network understood the subject matter. You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire because you were the guy that the ratings and the revenues were built on. You carried that network on your shoulders for a lot of years. So doesn't it seem safe to assume that the people at Fox News were given a piece of information or given some evidence that simply made it impossible for you to stay on at Fox News?

O'REILLY: That's a false assumption. There were a lot of other business things at play at that time, still today, that 21st Century [Fox] was involved with. And it was a business decision that they made. But there isn't any smoking gun or anything --

LAUER: But you don't let your number one guy go unless you have information that you think makes him --

O'REILLY: Sure you do. That's not true. There are billions of dollars at stake in business deals. And they made a business decision that they could possibly prosper more without me. It was as simple as that. It was a business decision.

LAUER: Did you ever send a lewd text or email to another employee at Fox News?

O'REILLY: No.

LAUER: Did you ever have any human resources cases brought against you?

O'REILLY: Not in 42 years. 

LAUER: The New York Times --

O'REILLY: Wait. In 42 years, all right, I've been in this business, I've worked for 12 companies. Not one time did I have any interaction with HR [or] any complaints filed against me.

LAUER: The New York Times reported that up to five women had come forward over the years and complained about sexual harassment at your hands, and that Fox News actually made deals with those women, financial settlements amounting to about $13 million, for their silence. Is that accurate?

O'REILLY: I don't know, because I'm not privy to what Fox News did. After Roger Ailes went down, there was a flood of lawsuits, a flood, with dozens of people named. And the company did what the company did.

LAUER: But you've read the reports.

O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Every company in this country, including this one, Comcast, has these lawsuits. Everyone. Now some of them are valid and some of them are not. They settled them for a number of reasons. Now, as an employee, I don't really have any say in that matter. 

LAUER: But were you aware of those five women who --

O'REILLY: I was aware, sure. We were aware.

LAUER: And so why didn't you sue those women if you say you did absolutely nothing wrong?

O'REILLY: Because you can't win those lawsuits. If you're a public figure, you cannot win them. Sarah Palin is the latest example. And I could do that, but the collateral damage of these lawsuits, the press frenzy, every allegation is a conviction. Every allegation in this area is a conviction. They don't look for the truth.

LAUER: But think about those five women and what they did. They came forward and filed complaints against the biggest star at the network they worked at. Think of how intimidating that must have been, how nerve-wracking that must have been. Doesn't that tell you how strongly they felt about the way they were treated by you?

O'REILLY: Well, it's not just me. Those lawsuits involved many other people, not just me. So, I don't know. I'm not going to speculate about intent or why people did what they did. But you don't have this story, Lauer, correct. The lawsuits involved many people, many people.

LAUER: But you were also named --

O'REILLY: I was named in a few of them, a few of them.

LAUER: Let me put a period on it this way, Bill, by asking you over the last six months since your firing, have you done some soul-searching, have you done some self-reflection, and have you looked at the way you treated women that you think now or think about differently now than you did at the time?

O'REILLY: My conscience is clear. What I have done is organize a legal team to get the truth to the American people. So if you go to Newsmax.com or BillOReilly.com, you will see an article about one of the accusers of me, OK, who was arrested for filing a false police report. You will see that article. And I want people --

LAUER: And that happened --

O'REILLY: I want people to read it and make up their own mind.

LAUER: And that happened back in 2015. And I just want to mention, the two things can be mutually exclusive. She could have filed a false report in -- 

O'REILLY: But you don't know, Lauer. You don't know.

LAUER: And I don't. But she could have filed a false report in 2015 and still be telling the truth about you.

O'REILLY: Look, anything's possible, all right, but it goes to credibility, doesn't it, all right? If you look at this in totality, this was a hit job, a political and financial hit job, engineered by --

LAUER: Is this a vast left-wing conspiracy?

O'REILLY: No vast, and don't be sarcastic. Don't be sarcastic.

LAUER: Well, I mean, but I was the one that she, that Hillary Clinton said that to here 20 years ago.

O'REILLY: All right. We're going to be able to prove what we say. There are more things to come, all right? This was Media Matters, the Bonner Group, Color of Change, organizing sponsor boycotts to bring down Fox News and me.

LAUER: Were there any self-inflicted wounds here, Bill?

O'REILLY: Nobody's a perfect person. But I can go to sleep at night very well, knowing that I never mistreated anyone on my watch in 42 years.

Posted In
Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault
Network/Outlet
NBC, Fox News Channel
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
NBC Today
Stories/Interests
Sexual Harassment at Fox News
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