NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Fox News parent Twenty-First Century Fox Inc said yesterday it will investigate a sexual harassment claim against TV anchor Bill O’Reilly, who has seen several companies pull their ads from his top-rated news show in the past week.
The investigation comes after a complaint was phoned in to the network’s corporate hotline last week by Wendy Walsh, a former regular guest on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor” TV show, and her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, which the two posted to YouTube.
“21st Century Fox investigates all complaints and we have asked the law firm Paul Weiss to continue assisting the company in these serious matters,” the company said in a statement.
Walsh, a psychologist and radio host, said O’Reilly reneged on an offer to secure her a lucrative job on the network after she declined his invitation to join him in his hotel suite after a dinner in early 2013.
“I’m told that they are taking it seriously, and they are going to do the investigation that’s legally required of them,” Bloom told CNN on Sunday.
Fox and O’Reilly have paid $13 million to five women who accused him of sexual harassment, the New York Times reported last weekend. O’Reilly said in a statement then that he had been unfairly targeted because of his prominence and has not made further comment.
Numerous companies have pulled ads from O’Reilly’s Fox News show since the report, including BMW of North America, Allstate Corp, French pharmaceuticals maker Sanofi SA , direct marketer Constant Contact, men’s clothing company Untuckit and mutual fund operator T. Rowe Price . British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc said it temporarily suspended its advertising.
Fox News, the top-rated cable news network, has faced heightened scrutiny of its workplace climate after sexual harassment allegations led to the resignation of founding Chairman Roger Ailes last year.
21st Century Fox hired law firm Paul Weiss to investigate Ailes.
On April 3, Democratic political consultant and Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky sued the network and Ailes, accusing them of denying her a permanent hosting job after she rebuffed Ailes’ sexual advances.
Roginsky said that a misogynistic culture at Fox News had not changed since Ailes left the network.