Fox settled a sexual harassment charge against prime-time host Bill O’Reilly shortly after the company ousted Fox News chief Roger Ailes over other sexual harassment claims, The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon.
The story came after a report late Monday by LawNewz, the website run by TV legal analyst Dan Abrams, that “Fox News came to a very quiet settlement arrangement with former Fox News host Juliet Huddy after she lodged sexual harassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly, one of the network’s biggest stars, and Jack Abernethy, the newly appointed co-President.”
The Times reported, “In exchange for her silence and agreement not to sue, she was paid a sum in the high six figures, according to people briefed on the agreement.” The Times said its story was based on a letter mailed anonymously to reporters at the paper in December that contained specifics of the harassment allegations by Huddy’s lawyer, as well as interviews with current and former Fox News employees and three pages of a draft of the settlement agreement.
A Fox spokeswoman said in a statement to the newspaper, “The letter contains substantial falsehoods, which both men have vehemently denied.”
Until her departure from the network, Huddy, a veteran anchor and reporter, had been a visible on-air presence there, including for “The O’Reilly Factor,” where she was part of a weekly segment, “Did You See That?”
Huddy, who left Fox News recently, later joined WNYW/5 as an anchor and as host of “Good Day Early Call.” She left Ch. 5 in early September, around the time the settlement between 21st Century Fox and O’Reilly had been reached, according to the Times.
In 2004, Andrea Mackris, a 33-year-old associate producer on “The O’Reilly Factor,” sued O’Reilly over claims of sexual harassment. O’Reilly countersued, calling her charge an extortion attempt. The two later reached a settlement. The Washington Post reported the settlement “likely involves payment of millions of dollars to Mackris, since the two sides were discussing an offer of well over $2 million when negotiations [earlier] broke down.”
O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. program, “The O’Reilly Factor,” is cable news’ top-rated show, according to Nielsen.
Fox ousted Ailes, the founding president of Fox News Channel, in July, after numerous charges of sexual harassment against him surfaced.
Fox News did not respond to Newsday’s requests for comment.