The parent company of the Fox News says it knew a news analyst planned to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill O'Reilly when it renewed the popular personality's contract in February. The New York Times reported Saturday the company renewed O'Reilly's contract after he reached a $32 million settlement with the analyst, Lis Wiehl. In a statement, 21st Century Fox defended its decision because it said O'Reilly had settled the matter personally, reports the AP. It also said O'Reilly and Wiehl had agreed the financial terms would be kept confidential. The company says O'Reilly's new contract had added protections that allowed Fox to dismiss him if other allegations surfaced. O'Reilly was ousted months later when it was revealed Fox had paid five women a total of $13 million to keep quiet about harassment allegations.
An O'Reilly rep said Saturday that after 21st Century Fox fired Roger Ailes in 2016 following harassment charges, dozens of women accused scores of male employees at Fox of harassment. 21st Century Fox paid out close to $100 million to settle all cases. Wiehl's allegations included repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship, and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material, per people briefed on the matter. The settlement was by far the largest of a half-dozen deals made by O'Reilly or Fox. It was reached in January. A month later, Fox granted O'Reilly a four-year extension on a $25 million-a-year contract. In April, it fired him. O'Reilly's rep said the report was false and taken out of context. The Times stands by its reporting. "(The rep) addresses everything but what the story actually says. This article ... is accurate and deeply reported and we welcome any challenge to the facts," the Times said in a statement.