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Fox News Allegedly Settled Sexual Harassment Case Against Bill O'Reilly


Fox News is again in the spotlight because of sexual harassment allegations. Newly published reports show its parent company paid a sum in the high six figures in a settlement with a former reporter. The reporter Juliet Huddy, alleged that Fox News star Bill O'Reilly harassed her repeatedly. And she said the network's new co-president asked her out, then retaliated against her when she declined. NPR's David Folkenflik reports.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: The Fox News Channel, Bill O'Reilly and Fox News co-president Jack Abernethy have all denied the claims. The settlement was first reported by the legal blog LawNewz and by The New York Times. It has separately been confirmed by NPR with someone with knowledge of the arrangement. Fox News reporter Juliet Huddy had appeared frequently on Bill O'Reilly's show.


BILL O'REILLY: Now, Huddy said something very interesting to me as she came on the set just a few minutes ago.

JULIET HUDDY: (Laughter).

O'REILLY: You said I should have let Ron Paul have it.

HUDDY: Just slapped him down.

O'REILLY: Really?


FOLKENFLIK: On the air, the two seemingly had a strong rapport. This episode was from 2011.


O'REILLY: You're now in the big chair here. What would you have said to Ron Paul?

HUDDY: Nobody would ever sit in that chair, Bill.


HUDDY: It's all yours.

O'REILLY: All right.

FOLKENFLIK: But that year, Huddy alleged that Bill O'Reilly started to make unwanted sexual advances. In the documents reviewed by The New York Times, Huddy alleged she received unwelcomed kisses after a visit to his home, that he greeted her at a hotel room dressed only in boxers and that O'Reilly repeatedly made phone calls that were intense, sexual, unwanted, calls during which she believed he was pleasuring himself, not the first time such accusations had been lodged against Bill O'Reilly.


LESTER HOLT: Why was it important to go forward, in your mind?

FOLKENFLIK: Lester Holt interviewed former "O'Reilly Factor" producer Andrea Mackris on NBC's "Today" show.


ANDREA MACKRIS: When this inappropriate conversation had happened the last time, he said it was going to be in person. And I was - I felt extremely threatened for many reasons.

FOLKENFLIK: Mackris reportedly received more than $8 million in 2004 to settle her lawsuit. Huddy was paid in late summer 2015 at the same time former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson was paid $20 million to settle allegations of harassment by then Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Other women came forward. Ailes denied all those accusations.

Huddy alleged that Fox executive Jack Abernethy retaliated against her when she refused to have a relationship with him. 21st Century Fox rejects her allegations and named Abernethy co-president, extending his contract several months ago. Abernethy had been promoted to help replace Roger Ailes, who had known Juliet Huddy since birth. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF DJ JAZZY JEFF SONG, "FOR DA LOVE OF DA GAME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.