Two of Fox’s female contributors have spoken up about disgraced host Bill O’Reilly’s behaviour, in the wake of news his dismissal settlement will net him a year’s salary.
The Washington Post asserts that O’Reilly, who was ousted on Wednesday from his top-rated TV show on Fox News over allegations of sexual harassment, will receive almost US$25 million (NZ$36m) for agreeing to leave the company.
Meanwhile, The Daily Beast reports former Fox anchor Kirsten Powers appeared on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show on Wednesday night (local time) criticising O’Reilly’s behaviour.
“I was on-air with Margaret Hoover,” Powers told Cooper. “He [O’Reilly] got Margaret’s name wrong and she said, ‘Get my name right.’ He said, ‘I’m sorry, there’s a lot of blondes in this operation, I can’t keep you straight.’ And at the end of the segment, he said, ‘Thank you for your blondness.’”
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Powers said when she brought the issue up with the show’s producer she was told that O’Reilly was a “throwback, he’s kind of an Archie Bunker” and that there would be no apology coming.
According to Variety, Powers went on to say she talked to now sacked Fox boss Roger Ailes, who she says told her: “You know Bill, he likes to put up dirty pictures and ask pretty girls to talk about them.”
Ailes allegedly also told her O’Reilly was protected by the amount of money he made for Fox.
Former Fox contributor Margaret Hoover said O’Reilly would comment on the physical appearance of women on Fox – stressing they should dress better and look more appealing. She claims she avoided being alone with him and tried to “make sure that I was never in an experience or a situation where I felt vulnerable”.
“The real harassment was emotional harassment,” she said.
O’Reilly was one of the highest-paid TV show anchors, and this year struck a new deal that paid him between US$20m to US$25m. The new contract limited any payout to one year’s salary rather than the total due for the full term, the person said.
The payout is less than the US$40m 21st Century Fox Inc had to pay Fox News co-founder Roger Ailes to depart last year after he was accused of sexual harassment.
With one of the the most loyal audiences in TV, Fox News has maintained its lead in the ratings race despite an internal crisis that began last year when Ailes was accused of sexual harassment, leading to his ouster from the network he helped create. The network has pummeled CNN and MSNBC in the ratings since the presidential election in November.
O’Reilly, 67, has been the most recognisable face of Fox News for much of its 21 years, meaning his exit will test viewer loyalty.
The source declined to comment on O’Reilly’s annual salary, but CNN reported on Thursday that the host’s new contract provided about $25 million a year.
– Stuff and Reuters, Washington Post