James Murdcoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, said the amount of the $32 million sexual harassment settlement paid by former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was “news to me.”
During an appearance at the Paley Center for Media International Council Summit in New York, Murdoch said, “It was news to me when we saw that number the other day.”
The remarks followed the company’s initial response to the New York Times revelation of the company having known about the settlement with Lis Wiehl before inking O’Reilly to a four-year, $100 million contract extension. The Fox statement last weekend said that at the time of the contract renewal, the company “knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him … but was informed by Mr. O’Reilly that he had settled the matter personally, on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company.”
Murdoch also noted that the settlement was paid by O’Reilly, not by the company. He also said it is a given that some Fox employees are going to “behave badly at times,” though his priority is to make sure that when the company does discover evidence of misdeeds, “we can react to that information. We can be decisive about it, as we were with Roger Ailes, as we were with Bill O’Reilly.”
Fired from the network in April, O’Reilly recently was welcomed back on air by Sean Hannity for a guest appearance and has hit back at the Times and at former primetime colleague Megyn Kelly, who has also come after him this week from her new perch at NBC.