Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly‘s behavior toward the end of fellow personality Megyn Kelly‘s time at the network contributed to her decision to leave Fox in January and join NBC News, the New York Times reported.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, Kelly’s departure from Fox News was partially fueled by O’Reilly’s repeated dismissal of sexual harassment accusations against network founder Roger Ailes, who was ousted last year after host Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes and Fox News for sexual harassment. Of those accusations were Kelly’s, who included her own harassment accusations in her latest book.
The behavior in question began when O’Reilly appeared on CBS This Morning on Nov. 15 to discuss his new children’s book, and he was asked about Kelly’s accusations (her book had been published that day). O’Reilly replied saying he wasn’t “interested,” and he expanded by saying, “I am not interested in basically litigating something that is finished that makes my network look bad.”
“Look, it’s open season,” O’Reilly said. “Let’s whack the Fox News Channel. I’ve had enough of it. It’s a good place to work. All right?”
In response, Kelly allegedly sent an email to the new co-presidents of the network, writing that O’Reilly’s comments were inappropriate and that he had no business lecturing women about sexual harassment—in 2004, O’Reilly settled harassment allegations made by a producer for $9 million.
Kelly also said this “push for blind loyalty” for Fox is what led to the company’s culture of silencing sexual harassment accusations in the first place. Multiple people had knowledge of the email, and four spoke to the Times anonymously.
O’Reilly doubled down on his comments later that day on the The O’Reilly Factor, playing a clip of his CBS appearance and saying he was “not amused” by the subject matter’s turn toward allegations against his company and Ailes.
“If you don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave,” O’Reilly said. Kelly announced her departure in January.
Earlier this month, the Times reported that Bill O’Reilly and Fox News had settled five sexual harassment suits against the host, leading to more than 50 advertisers pulling out from The O’Reilly Factor. O’Reilly is currently on vacation from the show, the fate of his future with the network in the hands of the owners, the Murdoch family.
H/T New York Times