In an interview with Variety on Wednesday, the “CNN Tonight” host said O’Reilly should avoid “safe spaces” and do an interview that won’t be so one-sided. “I think he should do an interview with someone and not necessarily go to the favorable audience, to the safe space,” he said.
“He likes to talk about safe spaces,” Lemon continued. “I think he should go to someone who’s going to be fair — maybe like me — and do an interview to answer all of the charges and to clear his name if he absolutely believes that he’s not guilty of what he’s accused of.”
O’Reilly and Fox News has been enveloped in controversy since the beginning of the month, when the New York Times published a report that claimed that O’Reilly and the network have paid five women a total of about $13 million over the past 15 years in exchange for not taking legal action or speaking publicly about sexual harassment allegations. Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, officially ousted O’Reilly on Wednesday after dozens of advertisers pulled out of “The O’Reilly Factor” in wake of the allegations.
For Lemon’s part, he was shocked to see that so many women even received settlements over the years.
“I’m surprised that there are so many women who got settlements, because for me, my name is already out there,” he said. “With this sort of behavior and if I’m not guilty of it, I’m gonna fight like hell to make sure that people know that I’m not guilty.”
“Most people would never get away with that,” he added. “I don’t understand how that happens.”
The CNN host clarified that he doesn’t “take glee in anyone’s downfall.” He did say, however, that he’s glad to see women taking a stand.
“I think the culture has changed,” he said. “I don’t think society puts up with this anymore, or that sort of behavior. Innocent until proven guilty, but there’s certainly a lot of smoke and where there’s smoke, as we learned with Bill Cosby, there’s fire.”
Lemon explained why he thinks O’Reilly’s downfall is “the biggest story of the day,” pointing out that President Trump has recently defended him in the midst of the controversy.
“He has been influential in shaping politics, especially Republican conservative politics, so we’ll see who takes his place and steps into that and will shift the party and the conservative message in this country,” he said. “That’s huge.”