In 2015, Bill O’Reilly was dealing with an entirely different set of allegations than he is today. According to Mother Jones at the time, the Fox News host had “his own Brian Williams problem.”
MJ pointed to the numerous times O’Reilly told his audience that he experienced combat as a correspondent in the Falklands war during the early 1980s. “I’ve been there. That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators. I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. They bloviate about stuff that they haven’t,” he once said.
The MJ piece disputed O’Reilly’s claims and the TV personality went on the warpath. At one point, he threatened a New York Times reporter who was interviewing him on the story. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” O’Reilly allegedly said. “You can take it as a threat.”
That reporter was Emily Steele, who along with fellow reporter for the Times Michael S. Schmidt, revealed this April 1 that O’Reilly and his employers at Fox shelled out $13 million in hush money to women who accused him of sexual harassment. In the wake of the story, advertisers fled his show and the Murdoch family cut him loose.
“I am coming after you with everything I have,” Mr. O’Reilly told me. “You can take it as a threat.” http://t.co/gXsH3Zqaig
— Emily Steel (@emilysteel) February 24, 2015
In an episode of the Daily podcast from the Times after O’Reilly’s ouster, Steel described spending months investigating the claims against the host in the face of “resistance” from the network.
“We were just trying to follow the facts of our story,” Steel said. “We really had to dig to get this information. There’s a reason why these settlements were for so much money, was to keep these women from talking. There was a lot of resistance.”
According to Steel, she was surprised when O’Reilly was fired. The network has protected its marquee host for a long time, she said, through past allegations and other controversies.
Speaking on the Daily, Steele clarified that her reporting on O’Reilly’s sex harassment scandals were not fueled by any need for retribution.
“The reason we did this story is we were just trying to follow the facts.”
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