Today host Matt Lauer sat down with Bill O'Reilly this morning to talk about O'Reilly's sexual harassment allegations.
O'Reilly, the former host of the Fox News show The O'Reilly Factor, was fired from the network in April. During the interview, Lauer asked O'Reilly what reasoning he or his representatives were given for the termination.
"There was no reason," O'Reilly said. "They had a contractual clause that they could pay me a certain amount of money and not put me on air, and they exercised that clause."
When asked why the company decided to exercise that clause, O'Reilly said a "sponsored boycott" set up by "the radical left group" Media Matters "unsettled some people at Fox News."
Before his termination, O'Reilly faced allegations of sexual harassment. A New York Times article published in early April claimed that Fox News and its parent company 21st Century Fox had reached settlements totaling approximately $13 million with five women who had accused O'Reilly of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior.
O'Reilly told Lauer that his termination was a "business decision" and he stood by his claims that he did not do anything wrong.
"In 42 years, alright, I've been in this business. I've worked for 12 companies. Not one time did I have any interaction with HR, any complaints filed against me," O'Reilly told the Today host.
He also said that he didn't know whether Fox News and 21st Century Fox actually paid the five women those settlements because he wasn't "privy" to that information. In addition, he said that there was a "flood of lawsuits" after "Roger Ailes went down." Ailes, who served as the network's chairman and CEO, had also faced sexual harassment allegations and resigned from the company. O'Reilly was fired about 10 months after the departure of Ailes, who died in May.
O'Reilly said he was aware of these five women's accusations. Lauer asked O'Reilly why he didn't sue these women if he claimed their accusations were untrue.
"You can't win those lawsuits. If you're a public figure, you cannot win them," he responded. "Sarah Palin is the latest example. I could do that, but the collateral damage of these lawsuits, the press frenzy—every allegation is a conviction. Every allegation in this area is a conviction. They don't look for the truth."
O'Reilly also told Lauer that the lawsuits involved "many other people, not just me." Lauer asked the former Fox News star if he had done in "soul searching" or "self-reflection" in terms of the way he treated women.
"My conscience is clear," O'Reilly said, who then told Lauer that people could visit NewsMax.com or BillOReilly.com to read an article about one of his accusers who was arrested for filing a false police report.
When Lauer pointed out that the police report incident happened in 2015 and that the false report and sexual harassment claims could be "mutually exclusive."
"Look anything is possible. But it goes to credibility, doesn't it?" O'Reilly responded. "Alright if you look in totality this was a hit job, a political and financial hit job."
"You know, nobody is a perfect person." O'Reilly later told Lauer. "But I can go to sleep at night very well knowing that I never mistreated anyone on my watch in 42 years."
Watch the video to see the full interview.
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