Megyn Kelly said Monday that she complained about Bill O'Reilly while they were both working at Fox News, contradicting a statement from an O'Reilly spokesman who claimed, in response to a report that O'Reilly settled a $32 million sexual harassment claim, that no complaints were ever made about him at the network.
On NBC's "Megyn Kelly Today," Kelly went on to assail a culture of silencing sexual harassment victims — "not unique to Fox News," she noted — that makes women afraid of public shaming, being sued or losing their careers. She said it gave her no pleasure to talk about her former workplace but felt it was important to speak out.
In November 2016, O'Reilly had gone on CBS to discuss the sexual harassment allegations that led to then-Fox News Chief Roger Ailes' downfall. That day, Kelly said, she wrote the company's co-presidents a letter saying that O'Reilly's "history of harassment of women" may have "blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than, 'I am just so sorry for the women of this company who never should have had to go through that.'"
O'Reilly was later ousted from the network after allegations against him came to light in April. But the Times reported that O'Reilly was re-signed in February, after he made the $32 million settlement with a woman who worked as a Fox News analyst for 15 years.
Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel
Of Saturday's report, which has not been verified by NBC News, a spokesman for O'Reilly said, "in the more than 20 years Bill O'Reilly worked at Fox News, not one complaint was filed against him with the Human Resources Department or Legal Department by a coworker, even on the anonymous hotline."
Kelly said Monday that she knew that statement to be false because she had complained about him.
"This must stop," Kelly said of the wider culture of silencing accusers. "The abuse of women, the shaming of them, the threatening, the retaliation, the silencing of them after the fact, it has to stop."
O'Reilly responded Monday, saying on former colleague Glenn Beck's radio show that it was "incomprehensible" that Kelly would speak out against him, saying that "I helped her dramatically" in her career.
He posted online an undated thank-you note Kelly had written to him for giving a gift at a baby shower.
Asked for comment on Kelly's report Monday, a representative for 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, said the company "has taken concerted action to transform Fox News, including installing new leaders, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination. These changes come from the top, with Lachlan and James Murdoch personally leading the effort to promote civility and respect on the job, while maintaining the Company’s long-held commitment to a diverse, inclusive and creative workplace."
The company offered the same statement when asked about the Times report on O'Reilly Saturday. It also confirmed that it was aware of O'Reilly's settlement with his accuser, noting the settlement was made personally by O'Reilly with terms that were not disclosed.