Fox News and Bill O’Reilly have settled to the tune of $13 million with five women who accused the political commentator of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior, according to a report by the New York Times on Saturday.
O’Reilly denied any wrongdoing in a statement issued to the Times, and his lawyers threatened legal action “to defend Mr. O’Reilly’s reputation.”
“Just like other prominent and controversial people,” the statement read, “I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.”
“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel,” the statement continued. “Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”
Two of the cases were previously known, including a high-profile 2004 settlement with former producer Andrea Mackris and a settlement in January with former on-air host Juliet Huddy.
In 2011, former Fox Business Network host Rebecca Gomez Diamond left the network after outlining her complaints with O’Reilly and receiving an unspecified payout from O’Reilly himself. According to the Times, Fox News did not become aware of the settlement until after the investigation into Ailes began last year.
The two other cases were a settlement with former Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue, who approached the network with accusations against O’Reilly and Ailes after her departure and received a payout of $1 million, and another related to “an episode in which he berated a young producer in front of newsroom colleagues.”
In addition to the five settlements uncovered by the Times, O’Reilly was also mentioned in a lawsuit filed last August by former host Andrea Tantaros against Fox News, Ailes and current co-president Bill Shine.
“Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” the lawsuit stated.