US & Canada

Trump defends Fox host Bill O'Reilly amid sex claims

Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly is reportedly paid $18m a year

President Donald Trump has defended embattled Fox News host Bill O'Reilly amid reports of settlements with five women who sued him for harassment.

"I think he's a person I know well - he is a good person," Mr Trump told the New York Times on Wednesday from the White House, surrounded by his aides.

"I think he shouldn't have settled; personally I think he shouldn't have settled," the president added.

Dozens of advertisers have pulled commercials from The O'Reilly Factor.

"I don't think Bill did anything wrong," Mr Trump told the New York Times, adding that "he should have taken it all the way" to court.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson won a reported $20m settlement against the network

The New York Times reported on Saturday that settlements of $13m (£10.4m) were reached with five women who accused Mr O'Reilly of inappropriate behaviour.

Since then, about 26 firms - including Mercedes Benz, BMW and Advil - have withdrawn advertisements from Mr O'Reilly's show.

The scandal poses a problem for Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News because The O'Reilly Factor is the cable network's most popular show, with four million viewers a night.

Mr O'Reilly - who is reportedly paid $18m (£14m) a year - has so far remained silent about the allegations on his nightly programme this week.

Image copyright Julie Roginsky
Image caption Julie Roginsky said Fox News denied her a job after she rebuffed Roger Ailes' sexual advances

In 2004 when he was accused by a Fox News producer of making sexually suggestive phone calls, he took to the airwaves to defend himself.

He called the case "the single most evil thing I have ever experienced, and I've seen a lot".

On Tuesday night, an advert for Coldwell Banker ran, but the real estate company tweeted afterwards: "We were disappointed that our ad ran on O'Reilly as it wasn't part of our intentional media programming. We pulled future ads from the show."

The other companies include GlaxoSmithKline, Hyundai, Constant Contact, UNTUCKit, Sanofi, Allstate, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition/Rachael Ray Nutrish, T. Rowe Price, Mitsubishi, Wayfair, MileIQ, Lexus, Bayer, Esurance, Credit Karma, True Car, The Wonderful Company, Society of Human Resources Management, Suburu, and Orkin.

In June 2016, Mr Trump defended then-Fox News chairman Roger Ailes when he faced allegations of sexual assault at the cable network.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ailes and his wife leave the Fox offices last summer

"I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining," said Mr O'Reilly, "I know how much he's helped them.

"And now all of a sudden they're saying these horrible things about him."

Mr Ailes later left Fox over the claims.

Earlier this month, President Trump signed a presidential proclamation declaring April to be National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

During last year's election campaign, Mr Trump apologised after a 2005 video emerged of him making obscene boasts about groping women.

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