Hours after 21st Century Fox announced Bill O’Reilly’s ousting from Fox News, former contributor Kirsten Powers recalled complaining about the former anchor’s behavior. She said she was told, “You know Bill, there’s nothing we can do.”
Speaking with Anderson Cooper on “AC360,” Powers — a CNN political analyst — described an incident in which she appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor” along with fellow analyst, and current CNN commentator, Margaret Hoover.
She said O’Reilly “got Margaret’s name wrong and Margaret said, ‘Hey, get my name right.’ And he said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry there’s a lot of blonds in this operation, I can’t keep you all straight, Megyn Kelly is coming up.’ He starts throwing all these blonde names. And at the end of the segment he says, ‘Thank you for your blondness,’ to both of us.”
Powers said that after the incident she went to O’Reilly’s executive producer and said, “He needs to apologize and he needs to never do that again, or I am not doing his show anymore.”
“And I was told basically, ‘Well, you know, Bill. There’s nothing we can do about it. He’s a throwback. He’s kind of an Archie Bunker.’ And I said, ‘Well if you mean he is a Neanderthal, then we’re on the same page, he can never do that again. I am a political analyst here.’ Went to Bill, came back, and said, ‘No, he’s not going to apologize,'” Powers said. “I was called into my boss’ office and was told, ‘There’s nothing we can do. We are sorry this happened to you.'”
Powers said she also complained to then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.
“I was told the same exact thing. ‘There’s nothing we can do. It’s Bill. He’s a jerk. Nobody likes him.’ And then Roger said, ‘You know Bill. He likes to put up dirty pictures and ask pretty girls talk about them and then he said, ‘What am I going to do? I don’t like him, but he makes so much money, there’s nothing I can do.'”
Ailes resigned last year following his own sexual harassment allegations.
Powers said she quit O’Reilly’s show, but returned three years later.
“I said, ‘Look, I am willing to give this another try,’ and he said, ‘Sure’ and I came on the show,” Powers said. “I never had another problem. We actually ended up having quite a good relationship.”
Powers added, “It just spoke volumes that I had to completely handle it on my own, that there was nobody that who was even willing to say anything to him, just basically to say, ‘Hey you can’t treat one of our political analysts this way.'”
Powers said she had learned to tolerate behavior like this.
“You learn to expect that it’s part of your job,” she said. “This was an isolated incident for me. You just learn to live with it and that’s not okay. That’s why I think it’s important to give a lot of credit to [former Fox News anchor] Gretchen Carlson for coming out and really being the person who started this conversation.
Carlson sued Roger Ailes, alleging harassment and retaliation, in July. 21st Century Fox reached a $20 million settlement with her and issued a public apology.
“The only reason I am telling this story is because Gretchen came out and took on Fox News,” Powers said. “A lot of women just don’t talk about these things because if you make too much trouble, your career is over.”
O’Reilly released a statement on his departure from the network Wednesday afternoon, saying, in part, “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”
CNNMoney (New York) First published April 20, 2017: 2:06 AM ET