Bill O'Reilly has released personal letters he received from ex-Fox News anchors Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, an apparent effort to back up his claims that he did not engage in any sexual misconduct while he was with the network.
Mr O'Reilly leaked the letters after Ms Kelly said she sent an email to her former bosses at Fox News complaining about the behaviour of Mr O’Reilly toward women.
“O'Reilly's suggestion that no one ever complained about his behaviour is false. I know because I complained,” Ms Kelly said on her NBC talk show Megyn Kelly Today.
Mr O’Reilly asserts that in the more than 20 years he worked at Fox News, "not one complaint was filed against him with the Human Resources Department or Legal Department by a coworker, even on the anonymous hotline."
Mr O’Reilly reportedly reached a previously undisclosed $32m settlement with ex-Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl in January 2017, according to the New York Times. It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either the television host or the network's parent company, 21st Century Fox, to settle harassment allegations against him.
But despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr O’Reilly, and gave him a four-year extension in February 2017 that paid $25m a year, the newspaper reported over the weekend.
In an on-the-record interview with the Times, Mr O'Reilly called the allegations “crap."
“It's politically and financially motivated. And we can prove it with shocking information,” he added.
After the Times released its story, Mr O'Reilly's spokesman Mark Fabiani issued a statement saying the newspaper had “maliciously smeared” the author and former Fox anchor.
“The Times chose to rely on unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous sources, and incomplete, leaked, or stolen documents,” the statement says.
In an interview with TheBlaze Radio Network, a conservative libertarian media outlet, Mr O'Reilly also fiercely defended himself.
“I have been in the broadcast business for 43 years with 12 different companies,” he began, “and not one time was there any complaint filed against me. Nothing, zero! So I think my track record speaks for itself and people should look at the statement we have posted on BillOReilly.com and the affidavit from Lis Wiehl.”
After the settlement deal was reached, Ms Wiehl signed an affidavit saying she had “no claims against Bill O’Reilly”, according to the Times, which viewed the document.
The sexual harassment allegations had still ultimately cost Mr O'Reill his job at Fox News. Mr O'Reilly was ousted from the network in April and was quickly followed by co-president Bill Shine in May.
Mr Shine is claimed to have covered up the allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr O’Reilly and former Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Mr Shine has denied all wrongdoing regarding the allegations, as did Mr Ailes, who died in May.
On her show on Monday, Ms Kelly said that last November – two months before she left Fox for NBC – she emailed the network's co-presidents, Mr Shine and Jack Abernethy, to object to Mr O’Reilly’s comments during a CBS News interview. During the interview, Mr O’Reilly said he wasn’t “interested” in discussing a topic — sexual harassment — that “makes my network look bad.”
The network was then still dealing with the fallout from the controversy involving Mr Ailes, who was ousted in July 2016.
In response to Mr O'Reilly's comments, Ms Kelly said, she wrote to her bosses: “Perhaps he didn’t realise the kind of message his criticism sends to young women across the country about how men continue to view the issues of speaking out about sexual harassment.”
She continued: “Perhaps he didn’t realize 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 [Roger] Ailes mess to begin with. Perhaps it’s his own history of harassment of 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 am just so sorry for the women of this company, who never should have had to go through that.’ ”
On Monday, Mr O'Reilly expressed bewilderment at Ms Kelly's comments.
“I never had any problem with Megyn Kelly,” Mr O’Reilly told TheBlaze. “I don’t know why Megyn Kelly is doing what she’s doing. I don’t know why…It is incomprehensible.”