Bill O’Reilly remains one of the biggest names at Fox News, a reliably bloviating presence whose ratings have only gone up since the political clusterfuck of the 2016 election. But for a network that was rocked last year by sexual harassment scandals, O’Reilly is also one of its biggest liabilities; according to a new (and extremely detailed) New York Times report out today, he’s cost the company (and himself) $13 million in harassment settlements relating to his treatment of women. Most of those incidents were sexual in nature, as in 2004, when $9 million was paid out to producer Andrea Mackris over allegations that O’Reilly sexually propositioned her and made inappropriate phone calls where he sounded like he was masturbating. (Part of the settlement involved everyone involved absolving O’Reilly of any wrongdoing in the matter.)
All told, the company has settled four harassment cases against O’Reilly, ranging from a non-sexual one in 2002—when he loudly and repeatedly berated a female staffer on The O’Reilly Factor—all the way up to last year, when he was included in two separate claims. One, from former anchor Laurie Dhue, was part of a larger accusation against the company and former CEO Roger Ailes. The other, from frequent on-air personality Juliet Huddy, followed what seems to be a regular pattern: O’Reilly attempting to parlay gifts, “mentorship” and power into a sexual relationship with a young woman, and then angrily turning on her when she turned him down. (Fellow commentator Wendy Walsh alleged a similar pattern to her own relationship with O’Reilly, although she never took him to court. Walsh: “I feel bad that some of these old guys are using mating strategies that were acceptable in the 1950s and are not acceptable now.”)
O’Reilly—who claims to be a victim in all this, a target of conniving women who see him as an easy payday—denies every allegation. He says he only settles these cases—including one he paid for out of his own pocket, without telling Fox about it until recently—to avoid the negative publicity. Luckily for him, that $13 million is only a drop in the bucket compared to the money he brings in for Fox. The network could spend ten times that amount every year covering for O’Reilly’s (allegedly) desperate need to fuck every women he has power over, and still pull in $100 million in annual profits from his show.
UPDATE: Indeed, the New York Times report doesn’t seem to have dissuaded Fox from sticking with O’Reilly for at least another year. Variety reports that O’Reilly has just signed a new contract with the company, although it’s not yet clear what the duration on it will be. (The host has made noises in the recent past about a possible retirement looming, a change that would be seismic for the structure of Fox News.) O’Reilly’s last contract was apparently for somewhere between $15 million and $17 million a year, so this new one will presumably keep him flush with new settlement money for years to come.
[Note: A previous version of this article stated that all $13 million of settlement money came from Fox News, when that number is actually the sum of what both Fox and O’Reilly paid over the years. We apologize for the error.]