When Fox News fired Bill O’Reilly they had already paid out about $45 million dollars to settle charges of sexual harassment and abuse against the blowhard host. Actually, they didn’t fire him until the network’s advertisers fled because they didn’t want to be associated with his revolting deviancy. But the result was the same as Fox News had to part ways with their biggest star.
Ever since O’Reilly was cast off, he has been proclaiming his innocence and disparaging his accusers as politically motivated liars. Now one of them is fighting back with a lawsuit alleging defamation and breach of contract. The Daily Beast reports that:
“A brand-new federal lawsuit filed Monday in the Southern District of New York claims O’Reilly and Fox have repeatedly defamed ex-Fox News producer Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, and violated the confidentiality terms of their 2002 settlement agreement with her, by making public statements that portrayed her and other O’Reilly accusers as liars and extortionists motivated by politics and greed.”
This is an excellent example of O’Reilly opening his fat mouth and disgorging comments that boomerang back to smack in the face. If he had the intelligence and character to comply with the terms of his own non-disparagement contract there would be no grounds for this lawsuit. But he couldn’t help himself. He had to lash out and call his accusers liars to salve his wounded ego. And he did so expecting that his victims would stay quiet because of the non-disclosure agreements they were forced to sign.
As it turns out, that assumption on O’Reilly’s part was ill-considered. He is now facing a credible complaint that could result in many of his accusers being released from any contractual promise of confidentiality. And he isn’t the only one.
Donald Trump has been accused of sexual harassment by at least sixteen women (See this moving video featuring Trump’s accusers in their own words). He settled some of those complaints with NDAs that imposed silence on the part of his victims. But one of them is challenging the agreement because Trump has spoken of the offenses and called his accusers liars. According to the Huffington Post:
“Summer Zervos, who accused Trump of sexually harassing her, is suing the president for defamation after he repeatedly called her allegations a ‘hoax’ and claimed his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign hired her to slander him.”
The legal arguments for both of these lawsuits is that it’s fundamentally unfair for the victims to be muzzled by contract while the abuser is free to defame them. And that’s a point that was made by Bernstein’s lawyer who expanded the scope of reparations to include all such victims:
“They should release all victims from their NDAs and let the truth out. It is cowardly to publicly attack these women knowing they have been subjected to contractual provisions requiring absolute silence.”
Indeed. Men like Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump are inherently cowards. They hide behind their power and position in order to take advantage of others. But given the recent revelations about sexual harassment in politics, media, and entertainment, they may not be able to get away with it anymore. At least hopefully they won’t. And the worst abuser of them all, who must not be allowed to escape accountability, currently resides in the White House – temporarily.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.