Bill O’Reilly’s ousting from Fox News followed an advertiser exodus prompted by revelations of five settlements (totaling $13 million) paid by O’Reilly and Fox News to sexual harassment accusers. Saturday saw a new investigative report from the New York Times, which provided details of a sixth settlement (paid by O’Reilly) for the astronomical sum of $32 million to accuser Lis Wiehl. Gretchen Carlson, who received $20 million last year after claims against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, tweeted her take on the matter: “Nobody pays $32m for false allegations – nobody.”
Carlson’s input arrives after O’Reilly complained that the NY Times had published “[y]et another smear article on me.” He then directed people to his website for “the verifiable truth.”
And O’Reilly wasn’t finished. Deadline has more from his spokesperson, Mark Fabiani, who claimed that the NY Times “maliciously smeared” the former host without detailing a “sworn affidavit” signed by Wiehl that “repudiated all allegations against” him. However, one of the article’s authors, Michael S. Schmidt, tweeted screencaps of both places where the report discussed the affidavit signed while settling with O’Reilly.
Further, NY Times editor Dean Baquet stood behind his publication’s reporting with a formal statement:
“Mr. Fabiani addresses everything but what the story actually says. This article, like our previous reporting on the subject, is accurate and deeply reported and we welcome any challenge to the facts. The affidavit he claims our story ignored is quoted in our article twice.”
Indeed, the NY Times specifically reports that the January 17 affidavit signed by Wiehl (a Fox News legal analyst) specified that “the two sides had resolved their dispute,” so at that time, she had “no claims against Bill O’Reilly.” This followed an agreement (received by the NY Times from an anonymous source) that all messages and photos sent between O’Reilly and Wiehl “would be destroyed” as part of the settlement. In February, Fox News renewed O’Reilly’s contract, but by April, they fired him after advertisers fled due to news of mounting allegations against the host.