As Scandals Crest, Fox News Once More Under Siege Advertisers are beginning to pull their commercials from Fox News star Bill O'Reilly's flagship broadcast as allegations of sexual harassment continue to grow.
NPR logo

As Scandals Crest, Fox News Once More Under Siege

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/522690611/522690612" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
As Scandals Crest, Fox News Once More Under Siege

As Scandals Crest, Fox News Once More Under Siege

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/522690611/522690612" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And the Fox News Channel is once more under siege. Last summer, the ouster of chairman Roger Ailes during a huge scandal was intended to calm the place down. Yet, multiple scandals have erupted at Fox. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, major advertisers are now pulling commercials from the show of Fox News' top star Bill O'Reilly.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Julie Roginsky has been a paid commentator for Fox News since late 2011. On Monday, she sued Ailes saying he yanked away a promised promotion when she refused his sexual advances. Roginsky also sued the network's current president and its chief lawyer for retaliation. Yet, there she was yesterday morning on Fox News. It was a surreal moment. No mention of the suit as Roginsky lit into President Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

JULIE ROGINSKY: He took something about President Obama that was completely false...

FOLKENFLIK: A rare Fox News liberal who can hold her own, here's Roginsky several years ago with Fox News' Andrea Tantaros.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

ANDREA TANTAROS: And you think that he was wrong to support private equity in that quote.

ROGINSKY: Well, no, no. I think...

FOLKENFLIK: With former host Gretchen Carlson.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE REAL STORY")

GRETCHEN CARLSON: If you weren't going to talk about Obamacare...

ROGINSKY: Well, if you look at the Chamber of Commerce and other business...

FOLKENFLIK: And with former host Megyn Kelly.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

MEGYN KELLY: Julie Roginsky, you just gave birth to a baby this year.

FOLKENFLIK: Aside from being on Fox News, the women you just heard all share a bond. Each woman has alleged that Ailes sexually harassed her, which Ailes denies, blaming an orchestrated campaign against him. Tantaros alleges Bill O'Reilly also sexually harassed her. So does Wendy Walsh.

WENDY WALSH: After three weeks of appearances on his show, I received an email from his assistant saying Mr. O'Reilly would like to have dinner with you.

FOLKENFLIK: Walsh is a psychologist and a former TV news anchor. She had been auditioning for O'Reilly.

WALSH: To be a paid contributor at Fox News, which is, I believe, the highest rated in cable news is a very big opportunity.

FOLKENFLIK: Walsh tells NPR that dinner ensued at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant at the Bel-Air Hotel in LA. At the start, she says, O'Reilly said the job was hers.

WALSH: At the end of the dinner, he simply said, let's get out of here. And we stood up and walked out. And if you know the configuration of the Bel-Air Hotel, after you leave the hostess stand, if you turn to the right, you walk towards the bedrooms. If you turn to the left, you're walking towards the bar. And a kind of awkward thing happened that we both walked a different direction away from each other - me to the bar, him toward the rooms.

FOLKENFLIK: Walsh alleges she said, no. At the bar, O'Reilly told her, no paying gig. O'Reilly's show generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year from ads and is the network's biggest moneymaker. The New York Times reported this past weekend that O'Reilly, Fox News and its parent company have paid $13 million to women who have complained he harassed them. O'Reilly says he's only a target because he's famous and only settles complaints to protect his children.

The parent company, 21st Century Fox, says O'Reilly promises he takes the company's commitment to a healthy workplace seriously. Wendy Walsh never sought any money. Lisa Bloom is her lawyer.

LISA BLOOM: It's absolutely shocking to me that there's this toxic culture at Fox News where they seem to think that paying out millions of dollars annually is just a normal part of doing business. It's not. And it's not legal. No matter how much money they pay doesn't make it legal.

FOLKENFLIK: Three African-American employees just sued Fox for racial discrimination by longtime executive Judith Slater. Fox News says it's taken care of the problem. It fired Slater 10 days ago. One plaintiff alleges she told Fox's top lawyer, that's Dianne Brandi, about the discrimination two and a half years ago and that Brandi did nothing. Fox News has in the past blasted its accusers and blamed competitors in the mainstream media for covering its troubles.

Right now it's uncharacteristically subdued. A growing number of prominent advertisers has pulled commercials from O'Reilly's show, including car manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.