Harassment still pays: O’Reilly to receive ‘tens of millions’ in severance

While the world celebrated the long awaited demise of “The O’Reilly Factor” Wednesday, the fact that it took decades of harassment claims and payouts to get to this point, combined with the knowledge that the show’s fired host would surely be receiving a pretty hefty severance package, did serve to temper the enthusiasm of those reveling. On Thursday, news broke that gave an idea of just how hefty that severance package would be, and it proved that even in Bill O’Reilly’s downfall, sexual harassment still paid.

While neither Fox News or representatives for O’Reilly have commented, sources for CNN reported that he’ll receive “tens of millions of dollars” on his way out the network. The host had recently signed a new contract that was to take him through 2021 at an annual salary of 25 million. That means the entire contract was worth somewhere around $100 million. Fox was able to include language in the contract to keep him from receiving the entirety of that amount, as Roger Ailes did when he was ousted last year, but it will still be a large chunk of change.

“That’s multiple of ten,” CNN host John Berman said. “Not a single $10 million.”

Fox was reportedly aware of the New York Times story on the harassment claims against O’Reilly well ahead of its publication in April, and added “outs” into his contract, which was signed in March, preparing for a worst case scenario. However, it seems they were still caught off guard by the fallout from the story, which was much larger than had been expected. Fifty-some-odd advertisers dropped the show, and media attention reportedly threatened a $14 billion deal with Sky news in England.

In that sense, the sad reality is that while none of this would have ever happened without the bravery of the women who were victim to O’Reilly’s abuses, his mistreatment of them was not what ultimately cost him his job. It was cash, plain and simple. Fox makes money parting ways with O’Reilly, O’Reilly makes money parting ways with Fox. Whether anything changes at the company remains to be seen. I wouldn’t bet on it.

UPDATE, 12:14 p.m.: reports that Matthew Garrahan of the Financial Times O’Reilly will score a $25 million payout from Fox News. That’s essentially a year’s salary for the disgraced TV host and a quarter of what his contract would have netted him, had it reached its end date.

[photo: Getty]