Stephen Colbert had harsh words for both Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News station on Monday over recent revelations that O’Reilly had agreed to pay $32 million in settlement money in January to Lis Wiehl, a former Fox News analyst who had accused him of sexual harassment. This payout proves indisputably that O’Reilly was guilty, Colbert said on-air during The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, while also excoriating Fox News for not taking action against O’Reilly sooner.
“It’s shocking that Fox News knew about all of these sexual harassment settlements and kept him employed for so long,” Colbert said. “But maybe they were just trying to protect their female employees. Because if Bill’s on camera that’s one hour a day he’s not groping somebody.”
Colbert remarked that the settlement was “exactly the sort of thing you do when you’re innocent.” He also reminded viewers that Wiehl had frequently appeared on The O’Reilly Factor in a segment called “Is It Legal.” Colbert said that the title ironic in the context of the reported harassment: “And the answer for $32 million: Survey says no it is not. Thanks for playing. Security will see you out.”
The New York Times broke the news of the settlement last weekend. UTA, O’Reilly’s talent agency, dropped him this week over the revelation. But Fox News had reportedly known of the settlement when it happened and awarded him a new $32 four-year contract extension of $25 million a year anyway, according to the New York Times.
The Times’ story said that the contract stipulated that the network could fire O’Reilly if new allegations surfaced. The network fired him three months later.