Two days after the New York Times reported that Bill O’Reilly had settled a previously undisclosed sexual-harassment case for $32 million months before being forced out at Fox News, Megyn Kelly delivered a searing monologue during her portion of NBC’s Today, addressing the toxic culture she experienced at the network.
Kelly allowed that O’Reilly’s claim that no woman ever talked to human resources may be true, because the network was “not exactly a friendly environment for harassment victims who wanted to report, in my experience.” However, she said, “O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained.”
She played a clip of an appearance O’Reilly made on CBS in November of 2016, during which he dismissed the concerns Kelly had raised about Ailes in her memoir released that month. O’Reilly said that he was “not interested in, basically, litigating something that is finished that makes my network look bad.”
Later that day, Kelly said, she wrote an email to the network’s then-co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, taking issue with O’Reilly’s public defense of Roger Ailes, the deceased Fox News founder who was forced out months before O’Reilly amid a torrent of sexual-harassment allegations. It read, in part:
“Perhaps it’s his own history of harassment of women which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than ‘I am just so sorry for the women of this company who never should have had to go through that.’”
The “Today” website posted the entire email on Monday afternoon.
After reading it, Shine said he would “deal with” O’Reilly, Kelly recalled. But that night, O’Reilly again strongly defended Ailes on his show.
Kelly said that the entrenched power dynamics she witnessed are “not unique to Fox News.” But she personally called out the network’s media relations chief, Irena Briganti, who she said is “known for her vindictiveness” and who, she claims, continues to leak personally damaging stories about women who accused Ailes of harassment.
In a statement, 21st Century FOX said: “Irena is a valued colleague and she has our full support.”
Kelly left Fox News in January after signing a highly lucrative contract with NBC News.
In an on-the-record interview with the New York Times released on Monday, O’Reilly said the allegations against him were “crap,” and said, “It’s horrible what I went through, horrible what my family went through.” But he offered no evidence to counter the newspaper’s reporting.
This post has been updated to include the statement from 21st Century FOX.