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Fox and the henhouse – hmmm


Uncommon Sense with Glenn Mollette

Television news anchor Bill O’Reilly probably can afford to retire and he probably should be thinking about it before he spends all of his life savings on settling sexual harassment lawsuits. He has paid out at least $13 million that we know about so far.
O’Reilly has a deep financial well, making close to $20 million a year from hosting his number-one rated nightly Fox News show plus about $30 million a year in book sales, making him the number-one nonfiction author on the planet. Such a deep well makes him a very attractive target to those who have a barb against him.
You probably have heard the gory details of several claims against him from all the other television news channels – the alleged escapades of his sexual advances toward female Fox Network employees whose careers he might encourage or advance if they had sex with him.
Of course, you haven’t heard much about it on Fox. They don’t have to talk much about it yet because all the other networks are covering the story intensely.
So far Fox News has stood with O’Reilly and, we are told, has paid three of the known settlements with five of the women accusers. He has paid the other two, one involving $9 million to a producer in 2004 and the other an amount agreed last year with a former on-air personality.
All of this comes after the fiasco that led to Fox News founder and CEO Roger Ailes’ $40 million departure package last year after disturbing allegations by women personalities against him that resulted in multi-million-dollar settlements and his demise.
O’Reilly’s show for the past 20 years has been a lucrative cash cow for Fox, earning the network hundreds of millions of dollars. Sponsors such as Mercedes Benz, BMW and dozens of others have filled the network’s pockets. However, by the latest count as I write, 21 have withdrawn from advertising during The O’Reilly Factor.
A Mercedes-Benz representative explained: “The allegations are disturbing and, given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now”.
In all such stories, it’s always hard to know exactly for sure what he said and she said and what he did and how she responded or vice versa. Even with audio recordings and videos, there is a lot of room for tampering. A picture may tell a story but it doesn’t always tell the whole story. I haven’t heard of any pictures or videos that incriminate O’Reilly but there is always the possibility of something surfacing.
The fact that the presenter and Fox have already settled for so much money with at least five women to try to spare his children and others from embarrassment and other suffering lends strong support to the suspicion that there is a lot of fire behind all the smoke. Also, the $13 million they’ve paid out isn’t saving anybody too much embarrassment, it would seem to me.
The big question to which someone else will have to uncover the answer is how many unreported illicit escapades Bill O’Reilly has conducted over the years. I’m not saying that he has – I’m saying that, if there is truth to the alleged harassment, there is always a chance that there are women who will never talk either because they don’t want to embarrass their families or because they actually were enriched or promoted in their careers as a result of their cooperation, unwilling or otherwise. It would be extremely embarrassing if their careers were actually advanced by their willingness to do anything – anything.
Are there women who had affairs with O’Reilly in order to advance their careers at the network? Did any have affairs with Ailes? Did they have affairs with both Ailes and O’Reilly? Who would dare to think we are only hearing from the allegedly harassed people?
There is always the possibility that O’Reilly and Ailes had numbers of successful trysts before and after and all around the women who have called foul. How many women have been on O’Reilly’s show or worked with him because they were willing to have an affair with him in order to be there?
There is also the possibility that all of the accusations have been made up for financial gain. Will anybody ever really know for sure?
This is all conjecture and the sort of stuff that makes people go hmmm.  There will be much more said about all of this in the weeks ahead. The media will not let this one rest.
Glenn Mollette is an American author whose
syndicated column is read
in all 50 states.

The views and opinions expressed by our contributors are their own and do not necessarily agree with those of The Post newspaper.

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