Five days after President Donald Trump declared April National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, he came to the defense of his friend, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, who once said men are “barbarians” when they see a “good-looking woman.”
Trump on Wednesday defended O’Reilly after a report that he; Fox News; and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, paid $13 million to five women to settle claims he sexually harassed them. One private settlement paid by O’Reilly was so secretive that 21st Century Fox was unaware of it until last year.
“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Trump said of O’Reilly in an interview with The New York Times.
“I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way.”
He added, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
O’Reilly said in a statement Saturday that he has been unfairly targeted because of his public prominence.
According to a New York Daily News article published Wednesday, in a March 2004 segment of “The O’Reilly Factor” about Naomi Wolf, a feminist writer who had claimed one of her Yale professors sexually harassed her at work, O’Reilly said it’s hard for men to control themselves around attractive women.
“They’re just barbarians, okay,” he said to guest Linda Mills, a New York University social work professor.
“They see a good-looking woman. It’s — they’re not [respecting] their intellect,” he said, according to transcripts of the show.
“If they get a come-on at all by the woman whom they feel is attractive, then they’re in,” he said.
“I think that the sexual harassment thing is used as a club, as I said, by many women.
“It’s something they have against men, a threat to keep men at bay in a very competitive marketplace.”
O’Reilly also said “there are women who manipulate themselves and use their sexuality to get ahead.”
“And then these women will turn around and file a sexual harassment lawsuit,” he said.
The largest settlement involving O’Reilly was a payout of $9 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit former Fox News producer Andrea Mackris brought against him in 2004.
The lawsuit claimed that he subjected Mackris to repeated instances of explicit sexual harassment. For example, over dinner, O’Reilly propositioned both Mackris and her college friend to have phone sex, and that the three should go to a hotel and “have the time of their lives.”
“Bill, you’re my boss!” a former Fox News producer said in a lawsuit she told Bill O’Reilly when he propositioned her for sex.
During his campaign for president, multiple women accused Trump of sexual assault and harassment. In October, a leaked recording of a 2005 conversation revealed Trump saying he could grope women without their consent.
At a presidential debate that same month, Trump said he was “embarrassed” by the 2005 comments, calling them “locker room talk,” and deflected the talk that his comments could be considered sexual assault.
The president’s proclamation of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month announced on Friday states the following:
“As a nation, we must develop meaningful strategies to eliminate these crimes, including increasing awareness of the problem in our communities, creating systems that protect vulnerable groups, and sharing successful prevention strategies.”
Women employees at Fox News are allegedly not in safe environments. Dating back to 2002 women have claimed O’Reilly, a top earner for the company, has sexually harassed them, according to The Times.
There are feelings of “fear and disappointment” for women employees at Fox News, according to CNN. Allegedly, there are women who want to speak up, but they’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs.
Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai say “no mas.” The habitually offensive network hit by another sexual harassment lawsuit.
Women continue to come forward with claims of a misogynistic culture at the company. Julie Roginsky, a Democratic political consultant and Fox News contributor, filed a lawsuit in New York state court on Monday against the network’s former chairman Roger Ailes; the network; and Bill Shine, the network’s co-president.
There are at least two separate lawsuits, against Fox News and Ailes, by women claiming they were sexually harassed. Also in 2016, former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros filed a separate sexual harassment lawsuit that was sent to private arbitration.
Last year, on behalf of Ailes, Fox News agreed to pay $20 million to settle a harassment suit by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. He denied any wrongdoing but resigned in July.
Trump has close ties with Ailes. In an interview on “Meet the Press,” shortly before Ailes’ resignation, Trump defended him.
"I'm sure it was friendly," Trump said of Ailes' alleged sexual assault of over 20 women. He also did not immediately rule out voting for former KKK grand wizard David Duke for Senate.
“I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them,” Trump said. “And even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him.”
Trump also maintains a close relationship with Rupert Murdoch, 85, executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, who took over Fox News after Ailes resigned and remains the CEO.
“They have been friends for a long time,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrote in an email to NPR in March. “They speak on occasion as the president does with all his friends.”