Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson called the network’s decision to allow Bill O’Reilly to remain on the air “horrifying and outrageous” after he settled a whopping $ 32 million sexual harassment lawsuit.
Carlson slammed her former network a day after The New York Times reported executives were aware of the settlement when it re-signed the since-fired O’Reilly in February to a four-year, $ 100 million deal.
“It’s horrifying and outrageous that any company, after dismissing somebody for allegations such as that, would not only re-sign a contract but allow that person to come back on the air,” Carlson told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” during an appearance Sunday.
Lis Wiehl, a former legal analyst for Fox News, claimed O’Reilly would message her sexually explicit material, including gay pornography — and was pushed into a sexual relationship with him, the Times reported. She was fired by Fox News in April after 15 years as an analyst.
O’Reilly wrapped up the allegations this past January just 15 days after the lawsuit was drafted.
The reported $ 32 million payout to Wiehl is steeper than the $ 20 million paid out to Carlson, who sued Fox News in July 2016, alleging founding CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed her.
Ailes later parted ways with Fox News — with a golden parachute worth tens of millions of dollars — and died this May.
Carlson, who’s gone on to pen a book about sexual harassment, condemned companies for settling claims or building arbitration clauses into an employee’s contract in case a legal issue arose.
“This is covering up, this is enablers, this is shutting up the victims,” she said. “I think it’s absolutely horrifying that we’ve allowed this to go on for so long in our corporate culture.”
Carlson continued that it created a false sense of security.
“We’re fooling society into thinking that we don’t have a problem with this issue anymore,” she told CNN. “Why? Because we don’t hear about these cases.”
O’Reilly reportedly settled a $ 32 million lawsuit, which the network was aware of when it resigned him earlier this year.
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She said the numerous women who have come forward against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was a sign women are standing up against harassment.
“That is what’s been so heartening over the last couple of weeks, seeing the Weinstein story develop and so many others, is that women are saying, ‘We’re not going to be silenced anymore,” she said. “We are going to be fierce.”
Fox News representatives didn’t immediately return a request for comment on Carlson’s remarks.
O’Reilly was among a handful of high-profile personalities to be accused of sexual harassment at the network. In September, Fox News host Eric Bolling was fired after being accused of sending sexually explicit photos to three female colleagues.
Fox News nudged O’Reilly out in April after a bombshell report he settled lawsuits with five accusers over the years, totaling $ 13 million. Multiple advertisers started to pull out of his top-rated “The O’Reilly Factor.”
He briefly returned to Fox News in late September, when he was a guest on Sean Hannity’s show.