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A female Fox News contributor is defending star host Bill O’Reilly from mounting accusations that he harassed multiple women at the top-rated cable news network.
“When you’re on The O’Reilly Factor, you’re in and you’re out. When I was with him, I’d be going over my notes, and he’d be going over his, and there’s nothing inappropriate,” Deneen Borelli told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview Tuesday. “The one time he commented on me personally, he admired a cross I was wearing, saying he bought one for his daughter that was very similar to mine,” added Borelli.
The latest accusation against O’Reilly came Tuesday when a lawyer for an unidentified clerical worker said the host called the employee “hot chocolate” (she is black) and leered at her.
“That’s not the Bill O’Reilly I know,” countered Borelli, who has been on The O’Reilly Factor about a dozen times since becoming a Fox News contributor in 2009. “This happened in 2008. I question the timing, and I don’t know why she isn’t revealing her name. It’s like a dog pile here. What does she have to gain? That’s my question.”
The allegations against O’Reilly started with an April 1 story in The New York Times alleging that at least five women have been paid $13 million in response to claims of harassment. That story came against a backdrop of former Fox News boss Roger Ailes stepping down amid charges of sexual harassment, and detractors have been insinuating that there is a pattern of intimidation and inappropriate behavior at the network.
“From makeup to microphone operators to hosts, the whole organization has always been so nice to me, starting with Roger Ailes giving me — a black conservative — a voice,” said Borelli.
Borelli is a mentor in an Ailes-inspired program for minorities whereby young men and women, primarily blacks and Hispanics, shadow employees, and graduates are promised jobs. She said it is “unfair” to smear Fox News as a hostile work environment.
“I’ve met people on all levels and of all backgrounds, and everyone has always been professional,” she said. “I can’t say what’s in the hearts and minds of Bill’s accusers, but I hope they’re not taking advantage of the news cycle and trying to cash in.”
She added: “I know that advertisers are pulling out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a coordinated effort by the left to go after Bill’s advertisers, because they hate him so much.”
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