The President of the United States defended Fox News Channel primetime star Bill O’Reilly in an interview this morning with New York Times reporters.
“I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” Donald Trump said in an Oval Office sit-down, surrounded by half a dozen of his highest-ranking acolytes including Vice President Mike Pence, who has previously said he will not dine or drink booze in the presence of any woman other than his wife.
Trump defended O’Reilly from the Oval Office four days after the Times reported O’Reilly and Fox News Channel had settled five lawsuits filed by women claiming sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. O’Reilly has said the allegations are without merit.
“He’s a person I know well; he’s a good person,” Trump said of O’Reilly.
About 20 advertisers have bailed on FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor in the wake of the report, and Fox News said yesterday it is “working with them to address their current concerns about The O’Reilly Factor,” according to Fox News EVP Ad Sales Paul Rittenberg, who added that the ad buys of those clients “have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
O’Reilly’s only mistake, Trump said today, was in settling the lawsuits. NYT put the dollar amount paid out by the stars and/or employer at $13 million over the years.
“I think he shouldn’t have settled, personally. I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way,” said Trump, whose presidential campaign survived the release of an old Access Hollywood video in which he was heard bragging about being so famous he could grab women “by the p*ssy” with impunity.
NARAL President Ilyse Hogue called Trump’s remarks “the least surprising story of the week,” illustrating once again, she told MSNBC, that President Trump “has no regard for women.”
The news comes after a White House press release last week touted Trump proclaiming April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. “At the heart of our country is the emphatic belief that every person has unique and infinite value,” he wrote. “We dedicate each April to raising awareness about sexual abuse and recommitting ourselves to fighting it. Women, children and men have inherent dignity that should never be violated.”