A psychologist/radio host and her Southland attorney called Monday for an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, saying the psychologist’s rejection of a romantic advance by O’Reilly cost her a chance for a job at the network.
But the network and O’Reilly himself denied he ever acted improperly, saying he’s a target because he’s well known and well off. Some media reports indicated he recently signed a new contract worth an annual $18 million.
The allegations follow a recent New York Times report that the network or O’Reilly have paid $13 million to five women over the past 15 years to settle allegations of misconduct by the well-known television host.
Wendy Walsh, who said she hasn’t filed a lawsuit because she wants only “honesty,” had been a regular commentator on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
She said O’Reilly took her to dinner in 2013 at the Hotel Bel-Air, where the host told her the network wanted to make her a paid contributor. After dinner, however, O’Reilly invited her to his hotel room, but she declined, and he immediately became defensive and made remarks critical of her.
After that, her treatment by O’Reilly changed dramatically, she said. According to Walsh, their “small-talk off-air stopped abruptly.” She said she continued to reach out to O’Reilly with book ideas and other story suggestions.
“But I could feel him getting colder and more distant,” Walsh said at the Woodland Hills office of her attorney, Lisa Bloom.
She said she later appeared live on his set because she was in New York on a book tour, and before the taping began, O’Reilly looked up from his script and said, “When are you leaving?” Shortly after, she was contacted by the show’s executive producer and told they would be taking a break from the segment on which she regularly appeared, but when it resumed, she was never invited back.
“I knew it was coming,” she said. “I just expected that he would get over it, that he would behave like a professional.”
She said she never filed a sexual harassment claim because “I didn’t know that you can be sexually harassed if you’re a job applicant. I thought you had to be an employee.”
She also said that at the time, her daughter was about to submit applications to colleges, and she didn’t want to become embroiled in a potentially public dispute with a high-profile figure.
Walsh said she is not suing O’Reilly or seeking any money, just “honesty.”
There’s been no comment from Fox News on Walsh’s allegations, but in response to the New York Times inquiries regarding settlements paid to various women, 21st Century Fox issued a statement to the paper saying the network “takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously.”
“Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.”
O’Reilly himself issued a statement to the paper saying, “Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. 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. 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.”
—City News Service
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