In the growing conversation on sexual assault and harassment, former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly shared her experience working alongside notorious harasser Bill O'Reilly, who had his own show on the network.
As allegations of sexual assault associated with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein continue to unearth several other instances of abuse both inside and outside of Hollywood. Kelly, now an NBC News host, used her show to accuse Fox News of being an unfriendly space for victims. Using her experience working with O'Reilly as an example, she dismissed his claims stating that no one ever complained about his behavior prior to being fired for sexual harassment lawsuits against him.
O’Reilly, who settled sexual harassment allegations with a $32 million agreement, and then had his contract with Fox renewed, has been associated with a series of complaints, and yet, Kelly told her audience, he still claims that nobody really complained about his behavior to Fox while he was a host.
While talking to former female Fox News employees over the weekend, Kelly explained during her show, they confirmed her suspicion that the network wasn’t a “friendly environment for harassment victims who wanted to report,” which she noticed as a Fox employee herself.
“However, O'Reilly's suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained,” she said.
She revealed that, during an interview on “CBS This Morning” last year, O’Reilly snapped after being asked about Kelly’s allegations regarding sexual harassment accusations against former Fox CEO Roger Ailes. Then, she sent an email to executives saying that his demeanor on TV was sending out the wrong message.
During her Monday monologue, she used the opportunity to share the email with her viewers.
“Perhaps he didn't realize the kind of message his criticism sends to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment,” she wrote.
Kelly pointed to O'Reilly's history of abuse in order to further explain his behavior, adding that “his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that 'it will disgrace the company' is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with.”
“Perhaps it's his own history of harassment of women which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than 'I am just so sorry for the women of this company, who never should have had to go through that.'”
Unfortunately, she added, her complaints were ignored.
It’s quite telling when a news network ignores sexual harassment complaints made by one of its top anchors, as it’s clear that complaints made by female employees in lower ranks were absolutely ignored over time, with some women even being fired for speaking out.
As you can see, the culture of sexual assault and impunity doesn't just live in Hollywood; it's permeated everywhere.