In the summer of 2016, as sexual harassment allegations against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes were piling up, a former Fox News host filed a lawsuit claiming that she had been subjected to harassment not just from Ailes, but from Bill O’Reilly, the network’s number one host.
And that wasn’t all. According to the former host, Andrea Tantaros, Fox News executives not only knew about the misconduct, they acted aggressively to stifle her complaints.
Six months later and Tantaros’ accusations, which Fox News, Ailes and O’Reilly deny, have foreshadowed the contours of The O’Reilly Factor host’s downfall. 21st Century Fox has severed ties with its primetime star, its hand forced not only by the disclosure that three other women recently accused O’Reilly of sexual misconduct, but by the news that he and Fox News’ parent company had repeatedly settled complaints of harassment, to the tune of $13m.
Two of those settlements occurred after the ousting of Ailes following a tidal wave of harassment claims against him by former colleagues going back decades – which seemed to give the lie to Fox News’ promises to clean up the corporate culture that apparently shielded Ailes for a large part of his career.
O’Reilly’s downfall has in fact closely resembled that of his former boss, who left Fox News with a multi-million dollar exit package last summer. Both men had been publicly accused of sexually harassing women at Fox News long before they were shown the door. And both men withstood those scandals until their accusers grew in number and volume and the accusations began to ensnare other Fox News executives...
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