21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch said Wednesday he didn’t the amount of Bill O’Reilly’s massive $32 million settlement for sexual harassment when the company renewed the host’s contract earlier this year.
“It was news to me when we saw that number the other day,” Murdoch said at the Paley Center for Media International Council Summit in New York.
James Murdoch says Bill O’Reilly’s $32 million sexual harassment settlement “was news to me” when the NYT story came out. #PaleyIC
— Jason Lynch (@jasonlynch) October 25, 2017
The New York Times reported last weekend O’Reilly had paid off a former coworker, Lis Wiehl, in January — one month before he inked a fresh $25 million-a-year with 21st Century Fox to stay at Fox News. Wiehl had accused O’Reilly of repeatedly harassing her, forcing her into a “nonconsensual sexual relationship,” and sending sexually explicit material.
Murdoch pointed out the settlement was paid by O’Reilly, not Fox, saying “the settlement wasn’t a company settlement.” Fox knew O’Reilly had settled the claim before signing him to the new deal, but didn’t know details of the payout, according to Murdoch.
He then talked about managing the company at large, saying it’s difficult to monitor the behavior of everyone under the Fox banner.
“I can’t make sure that everyone in the business doesn’t behave badly at times,” said Murdoch. “But what I can make sure is if we know something, 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.”
O’Reilly was ultimately booted from Fox News in April, after a damning New York Times report said the cable star and network had paid at least $13 million to five women to settle sexual harassment claims.