On Sunday, Fox News’s Howard Kurtz weighed in on revelations of a $32 million Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment settlement, calling it “embarrassing” for the network and its parent company.
Kurtz dedicated a segment of his Sunday program to the bombshell news, first reported by The New York Times on Saturday, which revealed that Fox News signed O’Reilly to a massive contract extension after the former news anchor paid the extraordinarily large sexual harassment settlement to former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl.
While O’Reilly maintains the claims against him are politicly and monetarily motivated, Kurtz asked: “If these allegations are crap, why spend $32 million to settle them?”
As far as his network’s role in the controversy, Kurtz said, “Even if you really wanted to resign Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly had left, Roger Ailes had left, why did you not inquire as to the nature of the settlement and, more specifically, the amount of the settlement?”
In the segment, The Hollywood Reporter’s Matthew Belloni said these new details point to Fox News making an “effort to resign Bill O’Reilly and look the other way.”
The Times’s latest report comes as Fox News continues to deal with sexual harassment controversies. Just last month, the cable news network split with Eric Bolling following news that the host sent unsolicited lewd texts to female colleagues.
The network has also extensively been covering the recent Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment allegations, often without mentioning its own turmoil related to the issue, raising eyebrows of media critics:
Oh, so companies with pervasive sexual harassment issues at the leadership level should shut down? Interesting idea. https://t.co/zoFbzVod6g
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 14, 2017
Kurtz ended the segment saying, “21st Century Fox has been trying to move on from this mess — hiring a bunch of new female executives and on-air hosts, among other steps. But this is a significant setback for Fox.”
“There’s no question about it, it’s embarrassing, it’s disappointing that O’Reilly was given a new contract under these circumstances. I hope it doesn’t impede the progress that the company has been trying to make, which — in the end, the company did fire its biggest moneymakers.”