1:41pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Bill O'Reilly Accusers Look to Add 21st Century Fox to Defamation Lawsuit
Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, Andrea Mackris and Rebecca Diamond — three women who settled misconduct claims against Bill O'Reilly — are now seeking permission to add 21st Century Fox to a lawsuit.
The three plaintiffs have already accused O'Reilly and Fox News of defaming them and breaching both the nondisparagement and confidentiality clauses of their settlements in reaction to stories revealing the settlements. Just a week after both O'Reilly and Fox News brought motions to dismiss, the three plaintiffs are now claiming new defamatory statements plus suggesting that 21st Century Fox has failed to sufficiently cut ties with O'Reilly.
"Even after O'Reilly was taken off the air at Fox News as a host of his own cable program on April 19, 2017, O'Reilly remained and remains contractually bound to them under his employment contract with Defendants as that contract has yet to expire," states the proposed amended complaint. "Fox News and 21st Century Fox continued to promote and maintain the profile of defendant O'Reilly by having him on the air and allowing its on-air hosts to provide a platform for O'Reilly, including for the defamation described herein."
As one example, the plaintiffs discuss how O'Reilly appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show on Sept. 18, 2017. On the show, they say, O'Reilly "defamed Plaintiffs by portraying himself as a 'victim' of women who falsely accused him of sexual harassment and made claims against him, that he had conducted an investigation into many of the women who had reported him and it produced 'shocking results' and that he was the 'latest victim' of a progressive campaign aimed at getting him off the air."
The proposed complaint also discusses how Fox News' website promotes Hannity's radio show.
The plaintiffs are also bulking up defamation claims with O'Reilly statements made in an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC's Today.
"I've been in this business, I've worked for 12 companies," said O'Reilly at the time. "Not one time did I have any interaction with HR or any complaints filed against me."
Other statements are added from a press conference at his lawyers' offices as well as on Glenn Beck's radio program.
The lawsuit had already included statements by Rupert Murdoch about no serious sexual harassment allegations since Roger Ailes — and it is alleged in the amended complaint that 21st Century Fox is directly liable under theories of respondeat superior as well as agency.
Fox didn't immediately return a request for comment.
The proposed amended complaint does drop two causes of action — breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and tortious interference.