Monday, April 10, 2017

L-A Radio: KFI Host Calls Fox Harassment Hotline

A Los Angeles radio personality’s claim that she was sexually harassed by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in 2013 is being investigated by the cable channel’s parent company, 21st Century Fox.

Lisa Bloom, the lawyer representing KFI 640 AM talk radio host Wendy Walsh, told CNN on Sunday that 21st Century Fox attorneys say they will look into the claim that Walsh was denied an opportunity to become a contributor to Fox News because she rebuffed sexual advances made by O’Reilly.

The probe comes after Lisa Bloom, a civil rights attorney and advocate, called the network's corporate hotline last week with her client, Wendy Walsh, to make a complaint against O'Reilly. She put a video of the phone call on YouTube.

Bloom said Sunday on "Reliable Sources" that attorneys from the company told her and Walsh on Friday that they would conduct the investigation based on Walsh's complaint.  A Fox News representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In an interview with the New York Times earlier this month, Walsh went public with an allegation that O'Reilly broke a promise to get her a job at Fox News because she rejected his advances. Walsh was a guest on O'Reilly's top-rated cable news show, "The O'Reilly Factor," multiple times in 2013.

Walsh,  has not sued O'Reilly or sought a settlement, said Bloom, a former contributor to NBC's "Today" show who is known for her liberal advocacy and legal work. Walsh currently airs weekends on iHeartMedia's KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles.

O'Reilly said that he was targeted with allegations and lawsuits because of his celebrity. He said that no one had ever filed a complaint about him with human resources "even on the anonymous hotline."
Advertisers, meanwhile, have fled O'Reilly's show since the Times report was published. So far, 60 sponsors have said they would stop advertising on the program.

Reuters reports 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.

According to The LA Times, Walsh occasionally appeared in a regular segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” in 2013. She claims O’Reilly reneged on a commitment to get a position as a paid consultant at Fox News after she rejected his advances at a dinner meeting at Hotel Bel-Air in which they discussed her future at the cable channel.

“At the beginning of the dinner, he made a point of telling me his best friend was Roger Ailes and they wanted to offer me a job as a contributor on his show,” Walsh said in her call to 21st Century Fox. “At the end of the dinner he said, ‘Let’s get out of here,’ and I thought he meant let’s go to the bar and continue talking about my career and to get more career advice. But he started walking in a different direction and when he turned around to find me he said, ‘Let’s go to my suite.’”

After Walsh declined, she said, they went to the bar, where O’Reilly allegedly became hostile, insulted her and told her to “forget about any career advice I gave you, you’re on your own.”

Walsh said O’Reilly barely acknowledged her when she returned to appear on “The O’Reilly Factor.” Shortly thereafter her appearances ended.

Fox News has said that Walsh was dropped from “The O’Reilly Factor” because the program’s ratings declined when she appeared. Cable news executives often use minute-by-minute Nielsen ratings to determine the appeal of segments and guests.

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