(Getty/Rob Kim)

Billionaire Trump donor finalizing deal to bring back Bill O’Reilly at station where accuser works

O'Reilly set to join WABC Radio, whose staff includes another former Fox host who accused him of sexual harassment



Igor Derysh
August 11, 2020 2:16PM (UTC)

Bill O'Reilly is "in the final stages" of a deal to host a new program at a New York radio station owned by a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, who also employs a woman who accused the disgraced former Fox News host of sexual harassment.

O'Reilly is wrapping up a contract negotiation with 77 WABC, his attorney told CNBC.

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The conservative station — which already features hosts like Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, conservative pundit Ben Shapiro and Fox News hosts Brian Kilmeade and Mark Levin — is owned by billionaire John Catsimatidis, a longtime booster of the president. 

The station also features host Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News anchor who accused O'Reilly of trying to derail her career after she rebuffed his sexual advances.

"We are in the final stages of a contract," O'Reilly's attorney told CNBC, "and a program should be on in the fall."

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Catsimitidis confirmed the report, praising O'Reilly as "one common-sense American."

The billionaire, who also owns the Gristedes grocery store chain, bought the station last year and is exploring a campaign for New York City mayor after vowing to spend $100 million of his own money on a potential run. He previously ran for mayor in 2013 but lost his Republican primary race.

Catsimitidis has been a major Trump supporter, donating to his campaign and praising his efforts to build a border wall.

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The show would mark O'Reilly's most prominent attempt at a comeback after he was fired from Fox News in 2017 following a New York Times report revealing that he and the company paid five women $13 million to settle sexual harassment allegations against him. The Times later reported that O'Reilly also settled a sixth allegation of harassment and a "nonconsensual sexual relationship" for $32 million, bringing the total to around $45 million in settlements.

Huddy, who appears on one of WABC's afternoon shows, alleged that O'Reilly called her repeatedly "and that it sometimes sounded as if he was masturbating," The Times reported. She also alleged that O'Reilly tried to kiss her and asked her to return a key to his hotel room, where he appeared at the door in his underwear. Huddy was paid in the "high six figures" after agreeing not to sue, according to the report. The company and O'Reilly denied the allegations.

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"Company Christmas party should be a real zinger this year," Huddy wrote on Twitter after the news that the pair would be reunited at the same station broke.

The Times also reported that Fox was aware of the allegations when it re-signed O'Reilly to a $25-million-a-year contract. O'Reilly was consistently the highest-rated host in cable news and generated nearly half a billion in ad revenue for the network between 2014 and 2016.

O'Reilly called The Times report "inaccurate," claiming that it had "maliciously smeared" him in order to "keep him from competing in the marketplace."

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Since his ouster, O'Reilly has hosted "No Spin News" on a recently-launched conservative digital network called "The First." He has also made frequent appearances on 77 WABC and other conservative networks, including Newsmax.

O'Reilly's firing came shortly after Fox News fired its longtime CEO Roger Ailes over a litany of sexual harassment allegations, which many accusers claimed were covered up by the network.

"We were just women doing our jobs, who veered straight into the path of predatory men who wanted us to do more. And when we didn't, they took our jobs away," Huddy wrote in an NBC News op-ed in 2017. "But I'm proud that I, and others, found the confidence to speak out now. This is a movement, and we will keep it going. Today, I'm working as a guest talk show host on 77WABC Radio in New York City. I'm grateful the execs there have given me a platform."

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Two women filed a new lawsuit against Fox News in a New York federal court last month, alleging rape and sexual harassment at the hands of some of the network's top talent

Jennifer Eckhart, a former associate producer at Fox Business, accused Ed Henry, the former co-anchor of "America's Newsroom," of rape and other forms of sexual violence. Her co-plaintiff, Cathy Areu, a regular guest on the network, filed sexual harassment claims against Henry, as well as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and the "Media Buzz" host Howard Kurtz. 

Fox called the allegations false.

"Based on the findings of a comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, we have determined that all of Cathy Areu's claims against FOX News, including its management as well as its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Howard Kurtz and its contributor Gianno Caldwell, are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit," the network said in a statement. "We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations. Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart's claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network." 


Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Bill O'reilly Donald Trump Fox News John Casmatidis Juliet Huddy #metoo Politics Roger Ailes

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