Fox News extended host Bill O'Reilly's contract for $100 million over four years shortly after he reached a $32 million agreement to settle claims of sexual harassment from a former network employee, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Wiehl claimed that she been subject to a pattern of behavior that included "harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her", according to people familiar with the settlement.
Yet what makes the piece published by the Times Saturday such a bombshell is that it reveals Fox News' parent company, 21st Century Fox, knew about the settlement before granting O'Reilly a four-year extension on his contract that paid $25 million a year.
The Times' story rocked the political world Saturday because it reported the dollar amount that O'Reilly paid to settle sexual harassment accusations levied by Lis Wiehl, one of six woman to levy sexual misconduct accusations against O'Reilly.
The sexual harassment allegations and the publicity around them are "politically and financially motivated", O'Reilly told the Times this week, "and we can prove it with shocking information, but I'm not going to sit here in a courtroom for a year and a half and let my kids get beaten up every single day of their lives by a tabloid press that would sit there, and you know it". She agreed not to sue Mr. O'Reilly, Fox News or 21st Century Fox and that all photos, text messages and other communications between the two would be destroyed. The New York Times first reported the previous five settlements in April, spurring outcry that ended in Mr. O'Reilly's ouster. "The Times ignored that evidence, sworn under oath, and chose to rely on unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous sources and incomplete leaked or stolen documents", he wrote.
The allegations brought by Wiehl against O'Reilly were settled in a stunningly short period of time time - just 15 days.
He cautioned the Murdochs that they ought to expect points of interest from the January settlement to wind up plainly open.
In its first article about Mr. O'Reilly on April 1, The New York Times printed inaccurate settlement figures while fully understanding that O'Reilly and his counsel are legally bound by confidentiality and can not set the record straight. "I wish only the best for Fox News Channel".
Network executives later made the decision to fire O'Reilly in April because details about the January settlement were slated to become public, according to the Times. 21st Century's top executives, James and Lachlan Murdoch - the sons of Fox News co-founder Rupert Murdoch - had publicly pledged to improve the workplace culture at Fox. Shine has been named as a defendant in several lawsuits by former Fox contributors and staffers.