Trump defends Fox News host accused of sexual harassment

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters says Fox News host Bill O'Reilly "needs to go to jail" over sexual harassment allegations.

The sudden wave of advertisers abandoning Bill O'Reilly's primetime show has stunned media experts, sparking a broad debate over how - and if - the Fox News star can survive the growing sexual harassment scandal. Even though the allegations of sexual harassment are awful, there are, undoubtedly, a lot of people who tuned in to The O'Reilly Factor this week to see if Bill O'Reilly would talk about those allegations, or the reports of women being paid not to talk about them, on the air.

In an appearance on MSNBC's "All in with Chris Hayes", Waters - who has not been quiet about her disdain for President Donald Trump - said O'Reilly should be arrested for alleged sexual harassment against coworkers and explained her distrust of the Trump administration's foreign policy.

It is also largely because of O'Reilly that Fox News is the most popular network in all of cable TV and can thereby extract higher rates from cable companies to carry it.

The producer who said he told her to buy a vibrator and called to describe sexual fantasies about her.

Diamond, a former host on Fox News and Fox Business, wrote on Twitter to Trump that she was "saddened reading your comments".

O'Reilly, by contrast, is Fox News' top revenue producer, according to research firm Kantar Media, bringing in over $178 million in ad dollars in 2015 and $118.6 million in the first nine months of 2016.

More than 40 advertisers have now dropped The O'Reilly Factor, the number one programme on US Cable news for 16 years running. Several dozen of his corporate sponsors announced they were dropping "The O'Reilly Factor" since the New York Times report was published on Saturday. Paul Rittenberg, executive vice president for ad sales, said the network is trying to accommodate O'Reilly's advertisers by moving their spots to other programs on the channel.

Waters took issue with Trump's statement, saying, "You know the president is over there talking today about Susan Rice going to jail".

Ailes, who has denied all of the allegations against him, was forced to resign from Fox News just one week after that interview. And so I am not surprised he stood up and tried to defend Bill O'Reilly. "I think she either advised him wrong, or she's absent, and she's not in it".

  • Larry Hoffman