Soon after Fox News architect Roger Ailes was ousted last summer over multiple sexual harassment allegations, the network quietly reached a six-figure settlement with reporter and guest Juliet Huddy over alleged sexual harassment by host Bill O’Reilly, according to a report in The New York Times.
The Times based its report on interviews with current and former Fox News employees, a letter it obtained written by Huddy’s lawyers to 21st Century Fox, and three pages of a draft settlement agreement. The paper detailed inappropriate advances and subsequent retaliation by O’Reilly and executives including Jack Abernethy, the co-head of Fox News who also runs Fox’s station group. The company allegedly paid a six-figure sum to Huddy, who had appeared as a guest on The O’Reilly Factor and also as cohost of a syndicated morning show canceled in 2009 and, until last September, Good Day Early Call on New York affiliate WNYW.
21st Century Fox referred B&C’s requests for comment to Fox News. A network rep offered this statement: "Juliet Huddy’s letter of intent to sue contained substantial falsehoods which both men vehemently denied." O’Reilly’s attorney, A person briefed on the situation said that the company was aware of what the person termed Huddy’s "false allegations" when Abernethy was re-upped in September. Fredric S. Newman, told the Times, “There is absolutely no basis for any claim” against O'Reilly.
The reported O’Reilly settlement followed close on the heels of Ailes’ remarkable fall last summer, which stemmed from a lawsuit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson and a raft of allegations against Ailes by employees including Megyn Kelly, who last week announced her move to NBC News.
Legal website LawNewz first reported the existence of the letter expanded upon in the Times report.
“The right to work in a safe and harassment-free environment is not a political issue, but a basic right. The network’s continued employment and protection of Bill O’Reilly, a man with numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him, is wholly unacceptable," said Karin Roland, chief campaigns officer at anti-sexism group UltraViolet, which launched an online campaign targeting Fox News earlier this year. “Plain and simple – Bill O’Reilly’s continued presence at 21st Century Fox is outrageous and puts the safety of Fox News employees at risk. He should be sent packing. Today.”
The group also launched a petition seeking the firing of O'Reilly.
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