Bill O’Reilly defended Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Wednesday night over a high-profile host’s lawsuit accusing the cable-news network chief of repeatedly sexually harassing her.
In an appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” O’Reilly said he stood behind Ailes “100%,” rejecting former host Gretchen Carlson’s claims that she was fired from her show for rebuffing the CEO’s sexual advances.
“I’ve worked with Roger for the past 20 years,” O’Reilly said. “Best boss I’ve ever had. Straight shooter. Always honest with me.”
He added: “And I believe that over the years – he’s been in the business 50 years – 95% of people that have worked for Roger Ailes would say exactly the same thing I just told you. In this country, every famous, powerful, or wealthy person is a target. You’re a target -I’m a target. Any time somebody can come out and sue us, attacks us, go to the press, or anything like that.”
O’Reilly also decried “tabloid society” and advocated stronger libel laws akin to those in the UK, where plaintiffs who lose a case can be responsible for legal payments.
In a court filing last week, Carlson’s lawyers said Ailes told her that the two “should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago” and called her a “man hater” after she criticized her former “Fox and Friends” colleagues for a suggestive joke.
Carlson said part of the reason she filed the lawsuit was to stand up to a culture that encourages harassment in the workplace.
“I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career,” Carlson said in a statement last week.
“Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace. I am extremely proud of my accomplishments at Fox News and for keeping our loyal viewers engaged and informed on events and news topics of the day.”
O’Reilly on Wednesday joined a list of prominent Fox personalities who have circled the wagons around Ailes following Carlson’s lawsuit last week.
In an op-ed article published by Business Insider on Wednesday, longtime Fox Business host Neil Cavuto characterized Carlson’s accusations as “sick.”
“I’ve never seen it. I’ve never witnessed it. Not even hints of it,” Cavuto said.
He added, noting his multiple sclerosis: “Take it from a guy with an illness: These accusations that don’t remotely resemble the Roger that I know – that WE know – are just sick.”