Megyn Kelly accuses Fox News of protecting Bill O'Reilly from sexual harassment allegations
One of America's top TV personalities accused Fox News on 23 October of protecting disgraced former presenter Bill O'Reilly in the face of sexual harassment allegations.
Speaking on her morning show on NBC television, ex-Fox anchor Megyn Kelly said she sent an email to several Fox News executives in November 2016, expressing her outrage at O'Reilly's alleged behavior.
Her comments came after The New York Times reported on 21 October that O'Reilly, who has since been fired, settled a sexual harassment claim by Fox legal analyst Lis Wiehl for $32 million in January.
He was later offered a new contract — but forced out again in mid-April after the Times revealed details of five other settlements.
"That is not a nuisance value settlement, that is a jaw-dropping figure," Kelly said. "OJ Simpson was ordered to pay the Goldman and Brown families $33.5 million for the murders of Ron and Nicole," she said. "What on Earth would justify that amount? What awfulness went on?"
Kelly — who joined NBC earlier this year — said she had mentioned settlements between the presenter and several women in an email to senior Fox News executives, claiming management was aware of them.
She also alleged that Bill Shine, Fox News co-president at the time, called her to say he would "take care of Bill O'Reilly."
According to Nielsen ratings data obtained by entertainment industry news site Variety, ratings for her show Megyn Kelly Today have steadily dipped since it debuted just weeks ago.
O'Reilly hit back on 23 October, telling a conservative radio program: "I want the story to go away because it's brutalizing my family."
"I'm not going to run and hide because I didn't do anything wrong," the ex-TV personality said.
"I don't know why Megyn Kelly is doing what she's doing. I don't know why. I've helped her dramatically in her career. In fact, when she was getting hammered earlier this year, I wrote a column sticking up for her."
Speaking on the Times podcast The Daily a few days before Saturday's report was published, O'Reilly insisted he had "never had one complaint filed against me by a coworker... in 43 years."
Spokesman Mark Fabiani defended O'Reilly's conduct on 21 October. "In the more than 20 years Bill O'Reilly worked at Fox News, not one complaint was filed against him with the human resources department or legal department by a coworker, even on the anonymous hotline," he said in statement published on O'Reilly's website.
The parent company of Fox News, 21st Century Fox, told AFP it has taken action to "transform" the cable news outlet, including "increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination."