Throughout the ordeal, O’Reilly has professed his innocence, declared that he’s a target for such claims, insisted that he paid out settlements to protect his family and argued that he never caught an HR complaint over his two-decade career at Fox News. At one point, O’Reilly vented to the New York Times, “I’ve been in the business for 43 years, and I’ve never had a complaint filed by anyone at 12 different companies.”
And that’s where the troubles have continued. Earlier this month, Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, a former Fox News staffer who’d reached a 2002 settlement over mistreatment (not sexual harassment), sued O’Reilly for breach of contract and defamation — alleging that O’Reilly had violated settlement terms with all his suggestions that the claims against him were folly. Far from being a “target” of extortion, claimed the Bernstein suit, O’Reilly “is a serial abuser and Ms. Bernstein’s complaints against him were far from extortionate.”
Now two other O’Reilly accusers are joining the suit against O’Reilly: Andrea Mackris in 2004 settled with O’Reilly for $9 million over sexual harassment claims, and Rebecca Gomez Diamond in 2011 settled for an unknown amount with the host, also for sexual harassment. In both cases, the women made recordings of conversations with O’Reilly. The suit, written by Neil Mullin and Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin, P.C., claims that all three women did, in fact, bring their complaints to the Fox News hierarchy. Bernstein went to HR and “other Fox executives” to complain about O’Reilly; Mackris complained through her lawyer to Fox News vice president of legal Dianne Brandi; and Diamond did likewise, according to the suit.
Oh, and another thing — O’Reilly has said this about his predicament: “It’s politically and financially motivated, and we can prove it with shocking information.” For seasoned O’Reilly watchers, that’s a classic. Whenever O’Reilly got busted for saying stupid and baseless and offensive things on his ratings-winning program, he’d blame lefty crackpots for the backlash. The suit takes umbrage at O’Reilly’s full-on effort to discredit these women: “These false statements portrayed plaintiffs in a false light and disparaged their character, in fact calling them liars, political opportunists and extortionists.”
The irony of all this post-settlement litigation is that O’Reilly — as well is his former (and late) boss Roger Ailes — expertly used non-disclosure/non-disparagement clauses plus stacks of money to enable and excuse his workplace behavior. This was a sophisticated hush operation. Yet O’Reilly lacks the sophistication — which is to say, he won’t shut up — necessary to keep the whole putrid operation glued together.
Knocked off his nightly 8 p.m. show on cable news’s No. 1 network, O’Reilly’s opinions and analyses aren’t worth considering these days. They were always insincere and opportunistic in any case; his strong audience numbers came through two avenues: the automatic audience that you get on Fox News, and a mix of polemical combativeness and an ultra-smooth delivery from the anchor’s chair.
Now he has a website and Twitter, where he recently commented on clothing sizes. People mocked him. This is a fitting denouement for an awful, awful man.