Megyn Kelly tore into Bill O’Reilly’s response to the New York Times‘ latest bombshell report about him, revealing she sent an email last year to the co-presidents of her former employer Fox News complaining about her former FNC colleague’s behavior toward women.
Over the weekend, NYT reported O’Reilly allegedly struck a $32 million sexual harassment payment with a Fox News legal analyst a month before 21st Century Fox gave him a four-year contract extension. O’Reilly called the report a malicious smear, claiming no woman in 20 years ever made a claim to human resources, or legal, about him.
“O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false,” Kelly said Monday on her Today hour. “I know because I complained.”
Kelly, who worked at Fox News from 2004 until January, said she wrote an email to the co-presidents of Fox News, Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, in November 2016 about O’Reilly’s treatment of women.
That’s around the time Kelly’s memoir was released; it included a chapter in which Kelly said she was sexually harassed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. O’Reilly, appearing on CBS This Morning, had blasted the book, saying, “I’m not interested in basically litigating something that is finished that makes my network look bad. I’m not interested in making my network look bad at all. That doesn’t interest me. One. Bit.”
Kelly said she complained to Shine and Abernethy.
“Perhaps he didn’t realize the kind of message his criticism sent to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment,” she wrote in the email. “Perhaps he didn’t realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that it will disgrace the company is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with.
“Perhaps it’s his own history of harassment with women, which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than, ‘I’m just so sorry for the women of this company who never should’ve had to go through that.’ ”
“Another settlement. Not a huge shock there; we already knew of five,” Kelly said at the top of her NBC News program. “But the latest one was for $32M, reportedly paid directly by O’Reilly… right before Fox News renewed his contract.”
“That not nuisance-value settlement. That is a jaw-dropping figure,” Kelly told her studio audience, who’d already gasped at the figure. “OJ Simpson was ordered to pay the Goldman and Brown families $33.5M for the murders of Ron and Nicole. What on earth would justify that amount? What awfulness went on?”
21st Century Fox said it was aware of the confidential settlement, but not of its terms, when it brokered the contract deal to pay O’Reilly $25M a year.
Kelly said that when she wrote her email complaining about O’Reilly’s on-air remarks, Shine called her in response, promising to “deal with O’Reilly.”
“By 8 PM, O’Reilly apparently had been ‘dealt with.’ And by that I mean he was permitted, with management’s advance notice, to go on the air and attack the company’s harassment victims yet again,” Kelly blasted.
Then she played the clip of O’Reilly’s program that night, excoriating people with complaints about the company’s execs and stars for going public, rather than going to human resources or leaving the company and then taking it up.
Which, ironically, Kelly did today.
In her remarks, Kelly also claimed Fox News’ media relations chief Irena Briganti “is known for her vindictiveness,” pushing negative articles “on certain Ailes accusers, like the one you are looking at right now.” She acknowledged the operation “absolutely has made some reforms.”
Contacted for comment, 21st Century Fox said, “Irena is a valued colleague and she has our full support.”