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President Donald Trump is standing by Bill O’Reilly.
Trump praised the Fox News anchor while discussing the alleged unmasking of former national security adviser Susan E. Rice with The New York Times on Wednesday.
“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” said Trump of the O’Reilly Factor host while speaking from his desk in the Oval Office. “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
Trump, a prominent Fox News fan, was last interviewed by O’Reilly during his pre-Super Bowl interview in February.
Over the weekend, the Times published an exposé detailing claims against O’Reilly and Fox News that resulted in $13 million in payouts from both. According to the report, five women alleged that O’Reilly sexually harassed them or engaged in other forms of inappropriate behavior. Two of the settlements were previously known, but the Times uncovered three additional settlements, two involving women who alleged sexual harassment and another who claimed O’Reilly verbally abused her.
Since the report, nearly two dozen advertisers have pulled ads from the program and the National Organization for Women (NOW) is now calling for Fox News to fire O’Reilly and, linking the claims to those against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, launch an investigation into the “culture of sexual harassment at Fox News.”
Fox News has reportedly renewed its contract with O’Reilly, despite the claims.
“We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about The O’Reilly Factor,” Paul Rittenberg, Fox News executive vp advertising sales, said in a statement regarding the advertisers. “At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
On Saturday, O’Reilly addressed the allegations in a statement.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” he said. “In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.”
O’Reilly continued: “But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children. The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”
O’Reilly has yet to address the scandal on either his Monday or Tuesday show.
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