UPDATED | Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly says his fame makes him a "target" who is "constantly at risk" in response to a New York Times article detailing payouts to five women who had accused him of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.
O'Reilly, host of Fox's "O'Reilly Factor," did not deny being the subject of multiple claims or the existence of financial settlements in a statement posted on his website Saturday, after the Times published an article that said the settlements total almost $13 million. While he didn't directly address any of the allegations, O'Reilly said it comes with the territory of being a well-known television personality.
"Just like other prominent and controversial people, 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," O'Reilly said.
The controversial host, who labels his conservative commentary show the "no spin zone," also suggested he and/or Fox News settled claims not because of any culpability, but due to his commitments to his family.
"But most importantly, I'm a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children. The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. 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."
All five women who have pursued claims against O'Reilly either worked for him or appeared on his evening program, the Times reported. Two of the five reported settlements came after Fox forced out chairman Roger Ailes in 2016 in his own cloud of sexual harassment allegations. Fox News also is engaged in arbitration with Andrea Tarantos, a former on-air personality, who had sued Ailes and the network and had also accused O'Reilly of sexual harassment.
Fox News acknowledged discussing the claims with O'Reilly while casting doubt on their veracity in a statement to the Times.
“21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously. Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News" the statement read.
This story was updated to reflect the nature of the dispute between Fox News and Andrea Tarantos.
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