Fox News has taken a page out of President Trump’s playbook, trying to silence the defamation lawsuit of three women who signed hush agreements after settling claims that former network star Bill O’Reilly mistreated and sexually harassed them.
Rachel Witleib Bernstein, Andrea Mackris and Rebecca Diamond, who The New York Times reported were paid not to speak about the gab show host’s handsy behavior, sued in December, saying they were defamed by the network’s executive and the fired best-selling author and host of “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The women say both 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch and O’Reilly claimed in news reports that they targeted them looking for a payday.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” O’Reilly, 68, told The Times.
Murdoch, 87, said the problem with sex harassment was limited to fired chairman Roger Ailes.
“No, that’s all nonsense. There was a problem with our chief executive (Roger Ailes) sort of over the years, but isolated incidents,” Murdoch told Sky News. “As soon as we investigated, he was out of the place in hours — well, three or four days, and there’s been nothing else since then.”
Ailes, 77, died last May.
Fox News lawyers say the women’s statements have no merit because they were not mentioned by name in any comments and the suit should be tossed. The attorneys also filed the women’s nondisclosure agreements — with heavy redactions.
“The statements at issue were not made by Fox News, did not refer to plaintiffs, and are neither defamatory nor disparaging,” Fox lawyers said in court filings.
Fox’s legal tactics follow Trump’s attempt to shut down two women who claim they had affairs with the President.
Porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal have taken the Trump to court, asking a judge to release them from nondisclosure agreements.
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