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Bill O'Reilly (political commentator)

Bill O'Reilly (political commentator)

William James O'Reilly Jr.[1] (born September 10, 1949) is an American journalist, author, and former television host. During the late 1970s and 1980s, he reported for local television stations in the United States and later for CBS News and ABC News. He anchored the tabloid television program Inside Edition from 1989 to 1995. O'Reilly joined the Fox News Channel in 1996 and hosted The O'Reilly Factor until 2017. The O'Reilly Factor was the highest-rated cable news show for 16 years, and he was described by media analyst Howard Kurtz as "the biggest star in the 20 year history at Fox News" at the time of his departure.[2][3][4][5][6] He is the author of numerous books and hosted The Radio Factor (2002–2009).[7] Since 2017, he has hosted the No Spin News podcast which he founded after being fired from Fox.[8] O'Reilly is considered to be a conservative commentator.[9][10]

O'Reilly's media career took a major blow after several New York Times investigations revealed that he had paid six women nearly $50 million to settle various sexual harassment lawsuits. After the first New York Times investigation revealed that O'Reilly and Fox News had settled five sexual harassment lawsuits totaling $13 million, Fox News terminated O'Reilly's employment in April 2017.[11][12][13][14] In October 2017, The New York Times reported an additional settlement of $32 million that O'Reilly had paid to settle a sixth sexual harassment lawsuit which had been filed against him by former Fox News analyst Lis Wiehl because of the "non-consensual sexual relationship" she says O'Reilly initiated with her.[15][16] The revelation of this sixth settlement caused O'Reilly to be dropped by the United Talent Agency.[17]

Bill O'Reilly
William James O'Reilly Jr.

(1949-09-10)September 10, 1949
New York City, New York, U.S.
EducationMarist College(BA)
Boston University(MA)
Harvard University(MPA)
  • Television host
  • political commentator
  • author
Years active1975–present
Political partyRepublican(Before 2001)
Maureen McPhilmy
(m. 1996;div. 2011)
WebsiteOfficial website [180]

Early life

O'Reilly was born on September 10, 1949,[1] at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan to parents William James Sr. and Winifred Angela (Drake) O'Reilly from Brooklyn and Teaneck, New Jersey, respectively.[18] He is of Irish descent with a small degree of English (Colonial American) ancestry.[19] Some of his father's ancestors lived in County Cavan, Ireland, since the early eighteenth century, and on his mother's side he has ancestry from Northern Ireland.[20] The O'Reilly family lived in a small apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey, when their son was born.[21] In 1951, his family moved to Levittown on Long Island.[22] O'Reilly has a sister, Janet.[23]

O'Reilly attended St. Brigid parochial school in Westbury and Chaminade High School, a private Catholic boys high school, in Mineola. His father wanted him to attend Chaminade, but O'Reilly wanted to attend W. Tresper Clarke High School, the public school most of his closest friends would attend.[24] He played Little League baseball and was the goalie on the Chaminade varsity hockey team.[25] During his high school years, he met future pop-singer Billy Joel, whom O'Reilly described as a "hoodlum." O'Reilly recollected in an interview with Michael Kay on the YES Network show CenterStage that Joel "was in the Hicksville section—the same age as me—and he was a hood. He used to slick it [his hair] back like this. And we knew him, because his guys would smoke and this and that, and we were more jocks."[26]

After graduating from Chaminade in 1967, O'Reilly attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.[27] While at Marist, he was a punter in the National Club Football Association[28] and also wrote for the school's newspaper, The Circle. He was an honors student who majored in history. He spent his junior year of college abroad, attending Queen Mary College at the University of London.[29] He received his bachelor of arts degree in history in 1971.[30] He played semi-professional baseball during this time as a pitcher for the New York Monarchs.[31] After graduating from Marist College, O'Reilly moved to Miami where he taught English and history at Monsignor Pace High School from 1970 to 1972.[32] He returned to school in 1973[33] and earned a master of arts degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University.[30] While attending Boston University, he was a reporter and columnist for various local newspapers and alternative news weeklies, including the Boston Phoenix, and did an internship in the newsroom of WBZ-TV.[34] During his time at BU, he also was a classmate of future radio talk show host Howard Stern whom O'Reilly noticed because Stern was the only student on campus taller than he was.[26] In 1995, he attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and received a master of public administration degree in 1996.[30]

Broadcasting career

Early career

O'Reilly's early television news career included reporting and anchoring positions at WNEP-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he also reported the weather. At WFAA-TV in Dallas, O'Reilly was awarded the Dallas Press Club Award for excellence in investigative reporting. He then moved to KMGH-TV in Denver where he won a local Emmy Award for his coverage of a skyjacking.[35] O'Reilly also worked for KATU in Portland, Oregon, from 1984 to 1985,[36] WFSB in Hartford, Connecticut, and WNEV-TV (now WHDH-TV) in Boston.

In 1980, O'Reilly anchored the local news-feature program 7:30 Magazine at WCBS-TV in New York. Soon after, as a WCBS News anchor and correspondent, he won his second local Emmy which was for an investigation of corrupt city marshals.

In 1982, he became a CBS News correspondent, covering the wars in El Salvador on location and in the Falkland Islands from his base in Buenos Aires, Argentina. O'Reilly left CBS over a dispute concerning the uncredited use in a report by Bob Schieffer of footage of a riot in response to the military junta's surrender shot by O'Reilly's crew in Buenos Aires shortly after the conclusion of the war.[37][38]

In 1986, O'Reilly joined ABC News as a correspondent. He had delivered a eulogy for his friend Joe Spencer, an ABC News correspondent who died in a helicopter crash on January 22, 1986, en route to covering the Hormel meatpacker strike. ABC News president Roone Arledge, who attended Spencer's funeral, decided to hire O'Reilly after hearing the eulogy.[39] At ABC, O'Reilly hosted daytime news briefs that previewed stories to be reported on the day's World News Tonight and worked as a general assignment reporter for ABC News programs, including Good Morning America, Nightline, and World News Tonight.[40]

Inside Edition

In 1989, O'Reilly joined the nationally syndicated King World (now CBS Television Distribution)-produced Inside Edition, a tabloid-gossip television program in competition with A Current Affair.[30] He became the program's anchor three weeks into its run after the involvement of original anchor David Frost had ended.[41] In addition to being one of the first American broadcasters to cover the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, O'Reilly obtained the first exclusive interview with murderer Joel Steinberg and was the first television host from a national current affairs program on the scene of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

In 1995, former NBC News and CBS News anchor Deborah Norville replaced O'Reilly on Inside Edition; O'Reilly had expressed a desire to quit the show in July 1994.[42]

Viral video

On May 12, 2008, an outtake of O'Reilly ranting during his time at Inside Edition surfaced on YouTube.[43] The early 1990s video depicts O'Reilly yelling and cursing at his co-workers while having issues pre-recording the closing lines on his teleprompter, eventually yelling the phrase "Fuck it, we'll do it live!" before continuing the closing segment to his show.[44][45] The original video, titled "Bill O'Reilly Flips Out," was removed, but another user reuploaded it the day after and retitled it "Bill O'Reilly Goes Nuts." Immediately after the video surfaced, O'Reilly acknowledged the video's existence, claiming that he was amusing his co-workers and said "I have plenty of much newer stuff... If you want to buy the tapes that I have, I'm happy to sell them to you."[46][47] The rant was later parodied by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report[46][48] as well as Family Guy and by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show,[49] and was named one of Time's "Top 10 Celebrity Meltdowns."[50] In October 2008, Wednesday 13 named their first live album after a line in the rant.[49][51] In 2009, a "dance remix" of O'Reilly's rant was nominated for a Webby Award for "Best Viral Video"[52] but lost to "The Website is Down: Sales Guy vs. Web Dude."[53]

The O'Reilly Factor

In October 1996 O'Reilly was hired by Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of the then startup Fox News Channel, to anchor The O'Reilly Report.[54] The show was renamed The O'Reilly Factor after his friend and branding expert John Tantillo's remarks upon the "O'Reilly Factor" in any of the stories he told.[54][55][56] The program was routinely the highest-rated show of the three major U.S. 24-hour cable news television channels and began the trend toward more opinion-oriented prime-time cable news programming.[57] The show was taped late in the afternoon at a studio in New York City and aired every weekday on the Fox News Channel at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time and was rebroadcast at 11:00 p.m.

Progressive media monitoring organizations such as Media Matters and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have criticized his reporting on a variety of issues, accusing him of distorting facts and using misleading or erroneous statistics.[58] In 2008, citing numerous inaccuracies in his reporting, MediaMatters for America awarded him its first annual "Misinformer of the Year" award.[59]

After the September 11 attacks, O'Reilly accused the United Way of America and American Red Cross of failing to deliver millions of dollars in donated money, raised by the organizations in the name of the disaster, to the families of those killed in the attacks. He reported that the organizations misrepresented their intentions for the money being raised by not distributing all of the 9/11 relief fund to the victims. Actor George Clooney responded, accusing him of misstating facts and harming the relief effort by inciting "panic" among potential donors.[60]

On August 27, 2002, O'Reilly called for all Americans to boycott Pepsi products,[61] saying that lyrics of Ludacris (then appearing in ads for Pepsi) glamorize a "life of guns, violence, drugs and disrespect of women." The next day, O'Reilly reported that Pepsi had fired Ludacris.[61] Three years later, Ludacris referenced O'Reilly in the song "Number One Spot" with the lyrics "Respected highly, hi, Mr. O'Reilly/Hope all is well, kiss the plaintiff and the wifey," in reference to his sexual-harassment suit with Andrea Mackris while married. In an interview with RadarOnline.com in 2010, Ludacris said the two had made amends after a conversation at a charity event.[62]

Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America on March 18, 2003, he promised that "[i]f the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean [of weapons of mass destruction] ... I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again."[63] In another appearance on the same program on February 10, 2004, he responded to repeated requests for him to honor his pledge: "My analysis was wrong and I'm sorry. I was wrong. I'm not pleased about it at all."[64] With regard to his trust in the government, he said, "I am much more skeptical of the Bush administration now than I was at that time."[65]

Beginning in 2005, he periodically denounced George Tiller, a Kansas-based physician who specialized in second- and third-trimester abortions,[66] often referring to him as "Tiller the baby killer." [67] Tiller was murdered on May 31, 2009, by Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist.[68] Critics such as Salon's Gabriel Winant have asserted that his anti-Tiller rhetoric helped to create an atmosphere of violence around the doctor.[69] Jay Bookman of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that he "clearly went overboard in his condemnation and demonization of Tiller" but added that it was "irresponsible to link O'Reilly" to Tiller's murder.[70] O'Reilly responded to the criticism by saying "no backpedaling here ... every single thing we said about Tiller was true."[71]

In early 2007, researchers from the Indiana University School of Journalism published a report that analyzed his "Talking Points Memo" segment. Using analysis techniques developed in the 1930s by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, the study concluded that he used propaganda, frequently engaged in name calling, and consistently cast non-Americans as threats and never "in the role of victim or hero."[72][73] He responded, asserting that "the terms 'conservative', 'liberal', 'left', 'right', 'progressive', 'traditional' and 'centrist' were considered name-calling if they were associated with a problem or social ill." The study's authors said that those terms were only considered name-calling when linked to derogatory qualifiers.[74] Fox News producer Ron Mitchell wrote an op-ed in which he accused the study's authors of seeking to manipulate their research to fit a predetermined outcome. Mitchell argued that by using tools developed for examining propaganda, the researchers presupposed that he propagandized.[75]

On April 19, 2017, Fox News announced that O'Reilly would not return to their primetime lineup amid public reporting on the tens of millions of dollars he paid to settle the sexual harassment claims of six women. The show continued, rebranded as The Factor, now hosted by Dana Perino.[76] On the same day, Fox announced that Tucker Carlson's show would be airing an hour earlier to take over O'Reilly's position and that The Five will replace Tucker Carlson's usual time at 9 p.m. with a new co-host Jesse Watters.[77] After O'Reilly was fired, the financial markets responded positively to the decision by Fox News, and its parent company 21st Century Fox rose over two percent in the stock market the next day.[78]

Disputed claims

George de Mohrenschildt claim

In his bestselling 2013 book Killing Kennedy and on Fox and Friends, O'Reilly claimed he was knocking at the front door of George de Mohrenschildt's daughter's home at the moment Mohrenschildt committed suicide and that he heard the shotgun blast:

In March of 1977, a young television reporter at WFAA in Dallas began looking into the Kennedy assassination. As part of his reporting, he sought an interview with the shadowy Russian professor who had befriended the Oswalds upon their arrival in Dallas in 1962. The reporter traced George de Mohrenschildt to Palm Beach, Florida and travelled there to confront him. At the time de Mohrenschildt had been called to testify before a congressional committee looking into the events of November 1963. As the reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt's daughter's home, he heard the shotgun blast [Emphasis added] that marked the suicide of the Russian, assuring that his relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald would never be fully understood. By the way, that reporter's name is Bill O'Reilly.

This claim has been disproven by former Washington Post editor Jefferson Morley who cites audio recordings made by Gaeton Fonzi indicating O'Reilly was not present in Florida on the day of Mohrenschildt's suicide.[79][80]

War coverage claims

On February 19, 2015, David Corn from Mother Jones broke a story reporting a collection of inconsistencies of O'Reilly when recalling his experience covering the 1982 Falklands War.[38] On April 17, 2013, O'Reilly said on his show: "I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, (...)".[81] In his book, The No Spin Zone, he wrote: "You know that I am not easily shocked. I've reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands."[82] On a 2004 column on his website he wrote: "Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash."[83] Corn claimed O'Reilly was not in the Falklands, but in Buenos Aires, and that no American journalist was in the Islands during the conflict. He also pointed out that according to O'Reilly's own book, The No Spin Zone, he arrived in Buenos Aires soon before the war ended.[38] On February 20, 2015, O'Reilly said on his show, "David Corn, a liar, says that I exaggerated situations in the Falklands War" and that he never said he was on the Falkland Islands. O'Reilly went on to describe his experience in a riot in Buenos Aires the day Argentina surrendered.[84] David Corn replied that they didn't claim O'Reilly "exaggerated" but rather that there were contradictions between his accounts and the factual record and that the 2013 clip from his show proves O'Reilly did in fact say he was on the Falklands.[85] David Corn told The New York Times: "The question is whether Bill O'Reilly was stating the truth when he repeatedly said that Argentine soldiers used real bullets and fired into the crowd of civilians and many were killed."[86]

In September 2009, during an interview he said he covered the riots in Buenos Aires on the day Argentina surrendered.[87]

During an interview with TheBlaze television network, O'Reilly said: "And if that moron [Corn] doesn't think it was a war zone in Buenos Aires, then he's even dumber than I think he is."[88] This characterization by O'Reilly was disputed by former CBS colleague Eric Engberg who was in Buenos Aires at the time and challenged his (O'Reilly's) description of the riot as a "combat situation." Engberg went on to say it was a moderate riot and he heard no "shots fired" and saw no "ambulances or tanks" in the streets.[89] The following week O'Reilly contradicted Engberg's claims, presenting archived CBS video of the riot that ensued after Argentine's surrender. The video appears to show riot police firing tear gas and plastic bullets toward the crowd; additionally, former NBC bureau chief Don Browne referred to the riot as an "intense situation" with many people hurt and tanks in the streets of Buenos Aires.[90]

The fallout from the coverage generated by the questioning of O'Reilly's reporting during the Falklands War led to questions of claims made by O'Reilly while in El Salvador and Northern Ireland. In his 2013 book, Keep it Pithy, O'Reilly wrote: "I've seen soldiers gun down unarmed civilians in Latin America, Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs." In a 2005 radio program O'Reilly said he had "seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador" and in 2012, on The O’Reilly Factor, said "I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head." O'Reilly and Fox News clarified that he had not been an eyewitness to any of those events but had just seen photographs of the murdered nuns and Irish bombings.[91][92]

Radio ventures

From 2002–2009, he hosted a radio program called The Radio Factor that had more than 3.26 million listeners and was carried by more than 400 radio stations.[93] According to the talk radio industry publication Talkers Magazine, he was No. 11 on the "Heavy Hundred," a list of the 100 most important talk show hosts in America.[94] Conservative Internet news site NewsMax's "Top 25 Talk Radio Host" list selected him to the No. 2 spot as most influential host in the nation.[95]

Newspaper column and film appearances

O'Reilly wrote a weekly syndicated newspaper column through Creators Syndicate[96] that appeared in numerous newspapers, including the New York Post and the Chicago Sun-Times.[97] He discontinued the column at the end of 2013.

O'Reilly made cameo appearances in the films An American Carol, Iron Man 2, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.[98][99][100]

Post-Fox News career

O'Reilly launched a podcast called No Spin News on April 24, 2017, after his departure from Fox News.[101] In August 2017, O'Reilly began digitally streaming a video version of No Spin News.[102][103][104]

In May 2017, O'Reilly began to appear as a recurring guest on Friday editions of the Glenn Beck Radio Program.[105]

In June 2017, O'Reilly and Dennis Miller co-headlined the public speaking tour, "The Spin Stops Here."[106]

O'Reilly made his first appearance on Fox News since his ouster on September 26, 2017, being interviewed by Sean Hannity.[107]

In 2019, O'Reilly began to do nationally syndicated daily radio commentaries billed as The O'Reilly Update.[108]

Political views and media coverage

O'Reilly at Camp Striker, 2006

O'Reilly at Camp Striker, 2006

On The O'Reilly Factor and on his former talk-radio program, O'Reilly focused on news and commentary related to politics and culture.[109] O'Reilly has long said that he does not identify with any political ideology, writing in his book The O'Reilly Factor that the reader "might be wondering whether I'm conservative, liberal, libertarian, or exactly what ... See, I don't want to fit any of those labels, because I believe that the truth doesn't have labels. When I see corruption, I try to expose it. When I see exploitation, I try to fight it. That's my political position."[110] On December 6, 2000, the Daily News in New York reported, however, that he had been registered with the Republican Party in the state of New York since 1994. When questioned about this, he said that he was not aware of it and says he registered as an independent after the interview.[111] During a broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly said that there was no option to register as an independent voter; however, there was in fact a box marked "I do not wish to enroll in party."[112] Despite his being registered as an Independence Party member, many view him as a conservative figure.[109] A February 2009 Pew Research poll found that 66% of his television viewers identify themselves as conservative, 24% moderate, and 3% liberal.[113] A November 2008 poll by Zogby International found that O'Reilly was the second most trusted news personality, after Rush Limbaugh.[114]

In a 2003 interview with Terry Gross on National Public Radio, O'Reilly said:

I'm not a political guy in the sense that I embrace an ideology. To this day I'm an independent thinker, an independent voter, I'm a registered independent ... [T]here are certain fundamental things that this country was founded upon that I respect and don't want changed. That separates me from the secularists who want a complete overhaul of how the country is run.[115]

On a September 2007 edition of The Radio Factor, while having a discussion about race with fellow Fox News commentator and author Juan Williams about a meal he shared with Al Sharpton, O'Reilly said "You know when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like... big commotion and everything. But everybody was very nice. And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's Restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." He commented that no one in Sylvia's was "screaming 'M'Fer, I want more iced tea.'" He further added, "I think that black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves, getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out. 'Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.'"[116] The statement drew criticism from a number of places. Roland S. Martin of CNN said that the notion that black people are just now starting to value education is "ridiculous" and that the notion that black people let Sharpton or Jackson think for them is "nuts."[117] Media Matters for America covered the story on a number of occasions.[118][119] O'Reilly responded, saying, "It was an attempt to tell the radio audience that there is no difference—black, white, we're all Americans. The stereotypes they see on television are not true" and also called out Media Matters, claiming that "Media Matters distorted the entire conversation and implied I was racist for condemning racism."[120] Juan Williams said the criticism of O'Reilly was "rank dishonesty" and that the original comments "had nothing to do with racist ranting by anybody except by these idiots at CNN." Williams went on to say it was "frustrating" that the media try to criticize anyone who wanted to have an honest discussion about race.[121]

O'Reilly has long said that his inspiration for speaking up for average Americans is his working-class roots. He has pointed to his boyhood home in Levittown, New York, as a credential. In an interview with The Washington Post, O'Reilly's mother said that her family lived in Westbury,[23] which is a few miles from Levittown. Citing this interview, then liberal talk-show pundit Al Franken accused O'Reilly of distorting his background to create a more working-class image. O'Reilly countered that The Washington Post misquoted his mother[122] and that his mother still lives in his childhood home which was built by William Levitt. O'Reilly placed a copy of the house's mortgage on his website; the mortgage shows a Levittown postal address.[123] O'Reilly has also said, "You don't come from any lower than I came from on an economic scale"[124] and that his father, a currency accountant for an oil company,[125] "never earned more than $35,000 a year in his life." O'Reilly responded that his father's $35,000 income only came at the end of his long career.[126]

He was the main inspiration for comedian Stephen Colbert's satirical character on the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, which featured Colbert in a "full-dress parody" of The Factor. On the show, Colbert referred to him as "Papa Bear."[127] He and Colbert exchanged appearances on each other's shows in January 2007.[128]

On May 10, 2008, he was presented with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Governors' Award at an Emmy awards show dinner.[129]

Sexual harassment lawsuits

2004 lawsuit

On October 13, 2004, O'Reilly sued Andrea Mackris, a former producer for The O'Reilly Factor, alleging extortion. O'Reilly claimed that Mackris had threatened a lawsuit unless he paid her more than $60 million. Later the same day, Mackris sued O'Reilly for sexual harassment, seeking $60 million in damages.[130] Her complaint alleged that in phone conversations, O'Reilly had "advised her to use a vibrator and told her about sexual fantasies involving her"[131] and that he threatened that if she reported his behavior, "Roger Ailes... will go after you... Ailes operates behind the scenes, strategizes, and makes things happen so that one day BAM! The person gets what's coming to them but never sees it coming." On October 15, 2004, Fox sought judicial permission to fire Mackris, but she was never dismissed. On October 19, 2004, Mackris filed an amended complaint seeking further damages for illegal retaliatory actions by O'Reilly, Fox News, and the News Corporation-owned newspaper the New York Post.[132] On October 28, 2004, O'Reilly and Mackris reached an out-of-court settlement in which Mackris dropped her sexual-assault suit against O'Reilly and O'Reilly dropped his extortion claim against Mackris. The terms of the agreement are confidential,[133] but in 2017 The New York Times reported that O'Reilly had agreed to pay Mackris about $9 million and that they would issue a public statement that there had been "no wrongdoing whatsoever."[134]

2016 lawsuits

After Fox News executive Roger Ailes was the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox News coworker Gretchen Carlson, O'Reilly said in July 2016 that Ailes was a "target" as a "famous, powerful or wealthy person" and called him the "best boss I ever had."[135] After Ailes was fired and the network settled the lawsuit with Carlson, O'Reilly declined to comment further, saying that "for once in my life, I'm going to keep my big mouth shut."[136]

Shortly after Ailes was fired, Fox News settled a sexual harassment claim against O'Reilly with former Fox host Juliet Huddy. Huddy alleged that O'Reilly pursued a romantic relationship with her, made lewd remarks, including a telephone call during which he appeared to be masturbating, and tried to have her fired when she rejected his advances. Legal fees in this case were settled and paid for by Fox News.[137] The New York Times reported the settlement to have been worth $1.6 million.[134]

In August 2016, former Fox host Andrea Tantaros filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News, claiming that O'Reilly made sexually suggestive comments to her.[138] Judge George B. Daniels dismissed the lawsuit in May 2018 and wrote that Tantaros' allegations were "primarily based on speculation and conjecture". [139]

New York Times report and ouster from Fox News

In April 2017, The New York Times reported that O'Reilly and Fox News had settled five lawsuits against O'Reilly dating back to 2002. Previously, only the settlements to Mackris and Huddy were publicly reported; The Times reported that Fox hosts Rebecca Diamond and Laurie Dhue settled sexual harassment lawsuits in 2011 and 2016 respectively and junior producer Rachel Witlieb Bernstein settled with Fox in 2002 after accusing O'Reilly of verbal abuse. The amount paid to the women filing the complaints was estimated at $13 million. The New York Times also reported a claim by former O'Reilly Factor guest Wendy Walsh, who declined an offer from O'Reilly to go to his hotel suite and was subsequently denied a job as a Fox News contributor.[134] Walsh appeared on The O'Reilly Factor for a few months after the hotel incident and at one point asked producers for more airtime on the show.[140]

After Walsh's complaint, 21st Century Fox hired the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an investigation into that allegation; the firm also conducted an investigation into the allegations against Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, which led to his ouster from Fox.[141]

After the five settlements were reported, the O'Reilly Factor lost more than half its advertisers within a week;[142] almost 60 companies withdrew their television advertising from the show[143] amid a growing backlash against O'Reilly.[144][145] On April 11, O'Reilly announced he would take a two-week vacation and would return to the program on April 24; he normally took a vacation around Easter.[146] On April 19, Fox News announced that O'Reilly would not be returning to the network.[147][148] The program was subsequently renamed The Factor on April 19 and aired its last episode on April 21.[149]

O'Reilly later stated his regret that he did not "fight back" against his accusers the way Sean Hannity did when facing the loss of advertisers around the same time.[150]

Later developments

In October 2017, The New York Times reported that O'Reilly had reached a previously undisclosed $32 million settlement with former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl in January 2017. Wiehl had been a frequent guest on O'Reilly's show from 2001 to December 2016. On January 2, 2017, O'Reilly received a draft of a lawsuit alleging a "nonconsensual sexual relationship," as well as "repeated harassment . . . and the [unsolicited] sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her." Wiehl subsequently signed a sworn affidavit "renouncing all allegations against him" and was paid over a period of time to ensure her silence. In an interview, O'Reilly denied the allegations against him and said he "resolved matters privately because [he] wanted to protect [his] children from the publicity."[151] Despite the Wiehl settlement in January, Fox gave O'Reilly a four-year contract extension in February worth $25 million per year. However, as described above, Fox announced in April that O'Reilly would no longer be employed by the network.

In late October 2017, O'Reilly's literary agency, WME, announced that they would no longer represent him for future deals, and his talent agency, UTA, informed him that it would not be renewing his contract.[152][153]

Personal life

O'Reilly was married to Maureen E. McPhilmy, a public relations executive. The couple met in 1992, and their wedding took place in St. Brigid Parish of Westbury, New York, on November 2, 1996.[154] O'Reilly and McPhilmy have a daughter Madeline (born 1998) and a son Spencer (born 2003).[155]

The couple separated on April 2, 2010, and were divorced on September 1, 2011.[156]

Domestic violence accusation from daughter

In May 2015, court transcripts from O'Reilly's custody trial with ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy revealed signs of domestic violence within the household—O'Reilly's daughter told a forensic examiner that she witnessed O'Reilly choking McPhilmy and dragging her down the stairs of their home by her neck, apparently unaware that their daughter was watching.[157][158][159] Following this allegation, O'Reilly issued a statement through his attorney describing the account as "100% false" and declined to comment further in order "to respect the court-mandated confidentiality put in place to protect [his] children."[159][160] In February 2016, O'Reilly lost a bid for custody of both of his children.[161]

Books by O'Reilly

O'Reilly has authored or co-authored a number of books:

  • O'Reilly, Bill (1998). Those Who Trespass. Bancroft Press. ISBN 0-9631246-8-4.

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2000). The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-0528-8. (Reached No. 1 on the New York Times' Non-Fiction Best Seller list.)[162]

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2001). The No Spin Zone. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-0848-1. (Reached No. 1 on the New York Times' Non-Fiction Best Seller list.)[162]

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2003). Who's Looking Out For You?. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-1379-5. (Reached No. 1 on the New York Times' Non-Fiction Best Seller list.)[162]

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Charles Flowers (2004). The O'Reilly Factor For Kids: A Survival Guide for America's Families. Harper Entertainment. ISBN 0-06-054424-4. (Best-selling nonfiction children's book of 2005)[163]

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2006). Culture Warrior. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-2092-9. (Reached No. 1 on the New York Times' Non-Fiction Best Seller list;[162] Achieved more than one million copies in print in its first three months)

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2007). Kids Are Americans Too [181] . William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-084676-3.

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2008). A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity: A Memoir. Broadway Books. ISBN 978-0-7679-2882-3.

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2010). Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama. William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-195071-1.

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2011). Factor Words: A Collection of the O'Reilly Factor Favorite "Words of the Day". A Bill Me Inc. ISBN 978-1450789783.

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Martin Dugard (2011). Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-0-8050-9307-0.

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Dwight Jon Zimmerman (2012). Lincoln's Last Days: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever [182] . New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-0-8050-9675-0.

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Martin Dugard (2012). Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-0-8050-9666-8.

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2013). Kennedy's Last Days: The Assassination That Defined a Generation. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-0-8050-9802-0.

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2013). Keep It Pithy: Useful Observations in a Tough World. Crown Archetype. ISBN 978-0-385-34662-7.

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Martin Dugard (2013). Killing Jesus: A History. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-0-8050-9854-9.[164]

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2014). The Last Days of Jesus: His Life and Times. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-0-8050-9877-8.

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Martin Dugard (2014). Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-0-8050-9668-2.[165]

  • O'Reilly, Bill; David Fisher (2015). Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies: The Real West. Henry Holt and Co.

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2015). Hitler's Last Days: The Death of the Nazi Regime and the World's Most Notorious Dictator. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-1-62779-396-4.

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Martin Dugard (2015). Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency. Henry Holt and Co.[166]

  • O'Reilly, Bill (2016). The Day the President Was Shot. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-1-62779-699-6.

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Martin Dugard (2016). Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-1-6277-9062-8.[167]

  • O'Reilly, Bill; James Patterson (2016). Give Please a Chance. Jimmy Patterson. ISBN 978-0316276887.[168]

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Bruce Feirstein (2017). Old School: Life in the Sane Lane. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-1-2501-3579-7.[169]

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Martin Dugard (2017). Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-1-6277-9064-2.[170]

  • O'Reilly, Bill; Martin Dugard (2018). Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-1-2501-6554-1.[171]


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