Fox News Channel has set a new contract with Bill O’Reilly, its most popular primetime personality, despite the swirl of sexual harassment allegations leveled at the longtime host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” according to a published report.
Word of O’Reilly’s new contract was reported by the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, the same day the New York Times offered a detailed report of sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly and settlements reached with five women totaling $13 million.
According to the Journal, O’Reilly personally paid out $10 million to settle those claims. O’Reilly has denied wrongdoing and said his high-profile in TV makes him a “target for those who would harm me and my employer.”
Reps for Fox News and O’Reilly declined to comment on the report of his new contract. In response to the New York Times story, Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox acknowledged in a statement that the company has discussed the harassment allegations with its star host.
“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,” the company said. “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.”
O’Reilly is among the highest-paid personalities in TV news, garnering an estimated $18 million a year on his most recent contract. His deal with Fox News had been set to expire at the end of this year.
O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. program is the anchor of Fox News’ successful primetime lineup. The show has long been the most-watched program in cable news, and it has seen its average viewership grow in recent months to nearly 4 million viewers amid the general increase in cable news viewership.
O’Reilly made waves earlier in the wake by commenting on-air that African-American congresswoman Maxine Waters was wearing a “James Brown wig.” The remark was swiftly condemned as racist, and the outcry prompted an apology from O’Reilly.