Bill O’Reilly Lied About His Defense of Roger Ailes


On Tuesday morning’s edition of The Today Show, Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly promised to “keep my big mouth shut” about the serious allegations of sexual misconduct being leveled at now-former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, but even as he made the promise, O’Reilly said enough to land him in hot water. Or hot pants, at least, as in the “on fire” variety, because O’Reilly also told interviewer Savannah Guthrie that “all I said” in Ailes’ defense was that he was “a good boss, best boss I’ve ever had.”

Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday pressed O’Reilly on similar support that he gave to Ailes following the lawsuit initially filed by Gretchen Carlson in July.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (CO-HOST): We have to ask you about what’s been going on at Fox News. Obviously Roger Ailes is no longer there in the wake of these sexual harassment allegations and revelations. You’ve been on record saying you support him 100 percent, but have you learned anything in these last few months that makes you change your mind about that? People like Geraldo [Rivera] or Greta Van Susteren have said, “In light of what I’ve learned, I feel differently.”

BILL O’REILLY: Well, first of all, my comments were made to Seth Meyers about what kind of a boss Roger Ailes was, not about the case. I don’t know anything about the case, OK? Nothing. So he was a good boss, best boss I’ve ever had, and that’s what I said to Seth Meyers. That’s all I’ve said. And I’m not going to say anything else because I work for this company and I don’t really have any insight into anything, so for once in my life I’m going to keep my big mouth shut.

As longtime Fox News watchdogs Media Matters have pointed out, however, that’s really not all he said, although for some reason, Media Matters calls O’Reilly’s recollection a “whitewash” instead of a lie. It is an outright lie, because O’Reilly very clearly suggested that Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit was “frivolous”:

SETH MEYERS (HOST): Gretchen Carlson, your old colleague at Fox News, has issued some allegations, some sexual harassment allegations, over your boss Roger Ailes. What is your position on this, or what did you think when you heard this?

BILL O’REILLY: Well, I think it’s a very sad situation, number one. And I’m just going to say this about it. I’ve worked for Roger Ailes for 20 years, right. Best boss I’ve ever had. Straight shooter, always honest with me. And I believe that over the years, he’s been in the business for 50 years, 95 percent of the people who have worked for Roger Ailes would say exactly the same thing that I just told you. In this country, every famous, powerful, or wealthy person is a target. You’re a target, I’m a target. Anytime, somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press, or anything like that. Until Amer — and that’s a deplorable situation because I have to have bodyguards. I have to hire bodyguards, physical bodyguards, all right? Until the United States adopts the British system of civil law, whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs. Until we adopt that very fair proposition, we’re going to have this out of control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive. I stand behind Roger 100 percent.

O’Reilly is incorrect about the law, as well. Although it is more easily done in Great Britain, American laws do allow judges to award attorney’s fees to defendants who are sued frivolously, a fact that became an issue in this year’s Democratic presidential primary.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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