Journalists got a look Thursday at how Bill O’Reilly’s legal team was planning to defend the ex-Fox News anchor against extensive allegations of sexual harassment after one of his attorneys accidentally forwarded an internal email exchange to a reporter at Politico.
The deliberations detail a last ditch effort the firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman to convince the Murdochs, who own 21st Century Fox, that O’Reilly was unfairly under attack by left-leaning organizations. Of significant debate was whether or not to share an email from Mary Pat Bonner, a Democratic fundraiser and ally of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters, which showed two scheduled conference calls with Media Matters President Angelo Carusone.
Media Matters had spearheaded what Bonner called an “advertiser education campaign” to encourage advertisers to abandon “The O’Reilly Factor,” which O’Reilly’s team saw as clear evidence of a smear campaign meant to oust the anchor. The calls were scheduled to take place later in the week.
“If we show [the email] to Fox tomorrow, word will get out and the Thursday call may be cancelled,” O’Reilly wrote in an April 18 email exchange. “So no formal sending to Rupert until after the call. O’Reilly added: “You all should know that I will not put up with much more from FNC.”
O’Reilly didn’t have to put up with any more from Fox News, because he was fired the next day. The conservative media star maintains that the allegations, including $13 million worth of settlements reported by The New York Times on April 1, are “unfounded.” O’Reilly will reportedly receive up to $25 million in a payout from the news network.