As the Bill O’Reilly sex scandal sends a growing odor through Fox News Channel, the lawyer for one of O’Reilly’s accusers promises a major announcement on Monday.
“We do have something to reveal at the press conference as to what the next steps are going forward,” said Lisa Bloom, lawyer for Wendy Walsh, in an interview Sunday morning with host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources.
The vow came hours after a lengthy expose on the front page of The New York Times reported that either O’Reilly or his employer have paid $13 million to five female workers who have accused him of sexual harassment.
He is the host of The O’Reilly Factor, weeknights at 8 p.m., the highest-rated program on the highest-rated network in cable news. O’Reilly also is a friend and defender of Roger Ailes, the former Fox News emperor who was dethroned last summer amid extensive allegations of sexual harassment.
“How many women have to come forward?” Bloom asked. “By my count, it’s already been dozens and dozens of women who have been reported in reputable media to have come out against Roger Ailes and now Bill O’Reilly and others.”
Bloom was one of several guests in the opening half-hour segment of Reliable Sources that covered only the story about O’Reilly and Fox. Later, Stelter returned to the subject with guest Tina Brown. But before that, he spoke with, among others, Times reporters Mike Schmidt and Emily Steel, who broke the story.
“Payments had been made after Ailes left that showed that Fox’s way of approaching this had not really changed and they were willing to cut these deals and hope that they remain secret in a way to keep them out of the press,” Schmidt said.
A related piece of the story is how money to O’Reilly’s accusers is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan. Matthew Garrahan of the Financial Times said there are questions about payment procedure.
“Payoffs were made that weren’t accounted for,” he said. “Millions of dollars of checks were written, were concealed . . . The parent company didn’t know anything . . . It’s kind of baffling.”
Steel (of the other Times) said O’Reilly had good reason to pay money to Andrea Mackris and Rebecca Gomez Diamond.
“They both had evidence,” Steel said. “They had recordings of conversations with Bill O’Reilly.”
As is often the case with the stars of right-wing Fox News, O’Reilly’s defense—released in a prepared statement—was that he, O’Reilly, is the real victim here. It’s a timeworn Fox trope.
“The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employers, the Fox News Channel,” O’Reilly said, as reported by the Times.
This elicited little sympathy from the lawyer, Bloom.
“Oh, boo-hoo,” she said. “It’s so hard to be Bill O’Reilly.”
The topic could come up this week at the eighth Women in the World Summit, put together by Brown, a former New Yorker editor and veteran journalist.
She told Stelter that the Fox problem is with a culture that is bigger than O’Reilly, the network poster boy with his smug and sanctimonious self-righteousness and his knee-jerk bigotry against African-Americans, liberals, immigrants and feminists.
“We’d like to think that Bill O’Reilly is part of the sort of the Paleolithic predator from the age when the white entitlement of guys of his kind was still there,” Brown said.
“But it’s actually all the way through the company and I think, at this point, they have to clean out that entire shop. That culture is not fixed and it won’t be, really, until Bill O’Reilly hits the door.”
Curiously, O’Reilly is a friend and defender of amateur President Donald Trump, who has been accused of similar things by several women. Small world!
Trump once bragged in a recorded statement that he likes to approach attractive women he doesn’t know and kiss them while grabbing them by the crotch.
The Times reported that Walsh—once a frequent guest on O’Reilly’s show—turned down O’Reilly’s invitation to go to his hotel suite after a dinner in 2013. He’d promised to help her career but turned cold after she turned him down, she said.
“I knew my hopes of a career at Fox News were in jeopardy after that evening,” Walsh told the Times.
In her comments about O’Reilly and Fox on CNN, lawyer Bloom included one comedian.
“Fox is the Bill Cosby of corporate America,” Bloom said. “Women are—over and over again—driven out. How many Gretchen Carlsons, how many Andrea Tantaroses do we need? This is absolutely outrageous.”
Cosby, the actor and comedian, has been accused of sexual predation. Carlson and Tantaros used to work for Fox. Bloom also said other female victims of Fox men should come forward.
“I know you’re scared,” Bloom said to the women. “You don’t have to go through this alone.”
Hand me the remote . . .
MEDIA BUZZ: Little Time for O’Reilly
On Fox, host Howard Kurtz opened with a blitz of Trump’s recent Twitter tweets, including “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd” and “Fake News Media” and “Phony Russia Story.”
He also spent lots of time on the complaints of Fox colleague Sean Hannity, a Trump fluffer who wants Ted Koppel to show more of their interview confrontation from last week on CBS Sunday Morning.
“I’m going to be very honest,” Hannity lied, saying Koppel made him out to be “a good liar.”
“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said. “Journalism in America is dead.”
In the second half of his hour show, Kurtz managed to find 80 seconds to read highlights of the O’Reilly scandal story, much of it devoted to O’Reilly’s denial. Kurtz also said O’Reilly has a new contract with Fox.
STATE OF THE UNION: Clam Up and Calm Down
Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican, is the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating meetings between members of the Trump crew and Russian operatives during and after the campaign.
It is chaired by Republican Devin Nunes of California, who held several news conferences recently to explain why he went back and forth to the White House to look at secret evidence that, he hinted, vindicated Trump’s Twitter tantrum that President Obama bugged Trump Tower.
Rogers told host Jake Tapper on CNN he would be against granting immunity to Michael Flynn—Trump’s now-cashiered former national security advisor who requested immunity in exchange for testimony.
“And the other thing I would stop doing is having all this public,” Rogers said. “Everybody need to clam up—candidly, including the President.”
Another guest was Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, who attended a White House signing ceremony last week in which The Great Leader forgot to autograph a trade bill.
Tapper’s video showed the President wandering out of the room as Vice-President Mike Pence tried to remind him.
Tapper asked Ross “Is there anyone in the President’s inner circle who’s willing to tell him when he is making a mistake?”
Ross seemed annoyed at the embarrassing question and said it didn’t matter because the bill got signed anyway beyond the sight of the photographers who were there to record it for history.
“I don’t see where the term ‘mistake’ comes from,” Ross said. “Whether it pleased some photographer or not is of no concern.”
THIS WEEK: Knife, Sword, Gun, Cannon
With Martha Raddatz the guest host in place of George Stephanopoulos on ABC, the first guest was Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, who was asked about Trump’s denial of the connection with Russia.
RADDATZ: “Do you think it’s fake news, phony, a total scam, as the President says?”
HALEY: “Well, Martha, I can tell you that things are very busy at the United Nations.”
She also said “the President has not once called me and said ‘Don’t beat up on Russia.’”
When Raddatz asked whether Trump needed to start talking tough about Russia, Haley replied “He has his people talking tough and that’s what we’re doing now.”
Reporter Bob Woodruff, on assignment in South Korea, discussed the North Korean philosophy of confrontation. Tensions are building there with the North testing missiles and, perhaps, nuclear weapons.
“If you bring out a knife to attack us, we will take out a sword,” Woodruff said, referring to North Korea. “If you come at us with a gun, we will pull out a cannon.”
MEET THE PRESS: What’s so funny, Mitch?
On NBC, Chuck Todd interviewed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the slippery Republican from Kentucky. Todd tried to pin him down more than once about Trump’s crude words regarding the Russia scandal.
TODD: “The President’s description of this investigation as fake news, nonsense, phony, total scam, those are just phrases he’s used since he’s become President on this. They don’t apply as far as you’re concerned?”
McCONNELL (with annoyance): “I’m not characterizing what the President is saying. What I’m telling the American people is they can depend on the Senate Intelligence Committee to do a credible, bipartisan investigation.”
In reference to Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Todd asked McConnell about his refusal to give Judge Merrick Garland an up or down vote when nominated last year by President Obama.
“I already told you, that’s an absurd question,” said McConnell, who also began to laugh, mirthlessly, at Todd.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Making the Air Even Worse
In that Trump’s budget cuts the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent and anti-pollution regulations are being scaled back, host Chris Wallace said to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt “If you do away with the Clean Power Plan and boost, as the President says, coal production, then you’re going to make the air even worse.”
Pruitt responded to observations like that by saying the Obama administration was too aggressive about such things and he promised Trump would bring jobs and growth and an end to “regulatory overreach.”
Wallace discussed with Julie Pace of the Associated Press the need to fund the government in late April and Trump’s desire for more than $1 billion to start building a wall on the border with Mexico.
“Is the President willing to shut down the government to insist that funding for the wall . . . will be in the spending bill?” Wallace asked. “Democrats say it will blow it up.”
Pace replied: “If Trump is willing to go to the mat for the wall funding, it’s going to be hard for him to get support on both sides.”
FACE THE NATION: Did Putin lie?
Haley was the first guest of CBS host John Dickerson, who sometimes surprises politicians with short, direct questions like this one about the Russian President, a strongman so admired by Trump.
DICKERSON: “Vladimir Putin said that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. election. Did he lie?”
HALEY (with a quick laugh): “Well, you know, I’ve always said we don’t trust Russia and I think we’re all aware Russia was involved.”
Susan Page of USA Today analyzed Flynn’s request for immunity from both the House and Senate intelligence committees as well as the FBI. So far, none have taken up the offer.
“The way you get immunity is if you have somebody more important that you can offer evidence on,” Page said. “This is a classic progression . . . You pull the thread on a sweater and, suddenly, the sweater’s unraveling . . . A year from now, we’ll still be talking about this.”
Referring to the performance of Nunes trying to investigate the White House and defend Trump at the same time, she said “It unfolded like a clown car.”
A thoughtful segment brought historian Jon Meacham to compare Trump to Andrew Jackson, supposedly a hero and presidential role model for Trump.
“Jackson knew that the world thought he was a crazy man,” Meacham said. “He knew how to use those weaknesses to become strengths. We just haven’t seen that with President Trump . . . We’ve not yet seen whether this President can be shrewd and strategic.”
Meacham noted that Jackson, in the early 19th century, practiced two of America’s Original Sins: The enslavement of Africans and the genocide against Native American Indians.
Asked what advice Jackson might give Trump, Meacham replied: “Don’t pick so many fights. Pick ones you think you can win. And lead the whole country . . . Don’t just lead your base.”