When the New York Times revealed that disgraced Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly had paid a staggering $32 million settlement for a sexual harassment claim brought against him by a former coworker, the news was almost immediately overshadowed by the fact that the network itself was apparently aware of the complaint and chose to sign a new contract with him well after the fact.
His new contract was worth nearly what he was paying in the settlement, in fact.
But nearly lost in the outrage over both O’Reilly’s disgusting behavior and Fox’s obsequious dedication to the almighty dollar was a claim that Bill made through his team of lawyers (but probably not including the woman he set up his email to auto-forward gay pornography to): That nobody had ever complained about old Bill before, and gosh, we could hardly believe it when they did this time!
[I]n the more than 20 years Bill O’Reilly 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.”
It turns out that this little tidbit, like the rest of Bill O’Reilly’s career, was a total crock of shit. And who else could that big reveal come from than the most famous woman ever to work at the infamous network, Megyn Kelly.
On Monday’s episode of her show Megyn Kelly Today, the former Fox superstar told her viewers that she had, in fact, sent an email to top executives at the network in 2016, well before Fox renewed the sexual predator’s contract. In November 2016, months before the massive sex crime settlement was made public, Kelly sent an email to Fox News co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy.
The day she sent the email, her memoir “Settle For More” was set to hit bookshelves and O’Reilly, in a CBS News appearance, was openly hostile about the book. This prompted Kelly to write the network executives her strongly-worded response:
Perhaps he didn’t realize the kind of message his criticism sends to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment. Perhaps he didn’t realize that 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 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.’”
Introducing the email, Kelly told viewers, “O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained.” She went on to say that although president Bill Shine told her he would “deal with it,” what that apparently amounted to was giving O’Reilly his “blessing to go on the air and attack the company’s harassment victims yet again.”
We already knew that the world has Fox News in large part to thank for the horrifying presidency of Donald Trump. What we didn’t know was how perniciously the rape culture that Trump engenders in himself and his followers had pervaded even the right-wing breeding ground that birthed it.
Featured image via Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Andrew hates long walks on the beach, glitter, and men’s rights activists. He can usually be found with his long-suffering wife, who can usually be found asking him to please not order onions on that burger, babe.