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Fox News Renewed Bill O'Reilly's Contract After He Settled Sex Harassment Claim

Oct. 21 2017, Updated 9:49 p.m. ET

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Fox News renewed Bill O'Reilly's contract after he settled a sexual harassment claim for a shocking $32 million, the New York Times has revealed.

According to the explosive new report, last January, O'Reilly struck the money deal with Fox News analyst Lis Wiehl, Times sources said. Then he made his own deal to stay with the network for $25 million a year. However, after other sex scandal allegations broke publicly about O'Reilly, he was fired by Fox News.

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The network's parent company, 21st Century Fox, acknowledged to the paper that it was aware of Wiehl's charges about O'Reilly, which included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, Times insiders disclosed.

This is the first time this new O'Reilly agreement has been revealed and it's at least the sixth one made by O'Reilly -- or the company -- to settle harassment allegations against him.

The Times reports that 21st Century Fox bigwigs Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, the top executives at 21st Century Fox, made a business decision to keep O'Reilly despite the harassment charges by Wiehl.

But they ousted O'Reilly, 67, in April after some of his other settlements became public.

In a statement, 21st Century Fox said it was not privy to the amount of the Wiehl settlement and believed that January settlement with her was a personal matter.

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O'Reilly told the Times, "I never mistreated anyone," but wanted to handle things privately to protect his kids.

The former host has maintained the end of his hosting career was "politically and financially motivated," and contended, "…we can prove it with shocking information, but I'm not going to sit here in a courtroom for a year and a half and let my kids get beaten up every single day of their lives by a tabloid press that would sit there, and you know it."

However, O'Reilly refused to specifically comment on Wiehl.

O'Reilly's attorney, Fredric S. Newman, said his relationship with Wiehl was an 18-year friendship in which she sometimes gave him legal advice.

Wiehl's $32 million deal is more than any other known sexual harassment settlements at Fox News. The previous highest was reported to be former anchor Gretchen Carlson's $20 million deal after suing Fox News head Roger Ailes in 2016.

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O'Reilly was seen on camera on Fox News telling legal commentator Wiehl, "Hey, you know, Lis, I got you this job."

She replied, I know you did, I know."

But after O'Reilly brashly told Wiehl, "You owe me," she said, "No, no,no."

During an O'Reilly Factor segment on a strip club, O'Reilly suggested that she learn how to dance for a $10,000 tip.

Wiehl last appeared on O'Reilly's show on Dec. 20, 2016.

On Jan. 2, O'Reilly reportedly received a draft of a lawsuit Ms. Wiehl was threatening to file, and 21st Century Fox received a copy of the complaint soon afterward.

After a few days of negotiation, O'Reilly and Wiehl reached a deal, according to the Times. She agreed not to sue Mr. O'Reilly, Fox News or 21st Century Fox and that all photos, text messages and other communications between the two would be destroyed.

In a statement, the company told the Times: "21st Century Fox has taken concerted action to transform Fox News including installing new leaders, overhauling management and on-air talent, expanding training, and increasing the channels through which employees can report harassment or discrimination.'' It added that "these changes come from the top.''

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The latest story, however, will rock Fox News further.

As Radar has reported, founder Ailes came under fire when former anchor Carlson sued him, saying he'd sexually harassed her. That suit was settled out of court — but prompted a flurry of new allegations against Ailes. He resigned in disgrace in July 2016 and died on May 18, 2017, at age 77.

Then O'Reilly, host of the then highest-rated cable news show, The O'Reilly Factor, was hit with his sexual harassment scandal and axed.

There have been others who were exposed, including Fox Business host Charles Payne, 56, who was recently suspended from the network amid sexual harassment claims but returned to the network after claiming he was exonerated.

But "The Specialists" host Eric Bolling lost his job at Fox News after sexual harassment allegations.

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