Eric Bolling to Bill O'Reilly: You leave my son out of your dispute with the Times; Update: O'Reilly apologizes

How many different Fox News alumni are embroiled in the O’Reilly saga now? There’s Bill himself, Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson — and maybe John Huddy? Huddy is the brother of Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News host who reached a settlement with O’Reilly last year and appeared on Kelly’s show this morning to discuss it. John Huddy was a correspondent at the network until this very afternoon, when he was let go because of a recent “physical altercation.” Huh.

Add Eric Bolling to the list. He’s ticked at O’Reilly for saying this in an interview with the New York Times this morning:

In that interview, O’Reilly seems to suggest the NYT bore responsibility for the death of former colleague Eric Bolling’s son, who died shortly after Fox News parted ways with Bolling amid allegations of sexual harassment reported on by the newspaper.

“I urge you to think about what you put in your newspaper,” O’Reilly said in the podcast. “Eric Bolling’s son is dead. He’s dead because of allegations made — in my opinion and I know this to be true — against Mr. Bolling.”

That’s quite a guilt trip to lay on a paper, especially one that, uh, didn’t reveal the sexting allegations against Bolling. (The HuffPost did.) Lots of powerful men, including the president, have children who might take it hard if the media reported on their dad’s scandals. One wonders what sort of “protect the kids” ethic O’Reilly would recommend to journalists, especially after spending 20 years at Fox throwing bombs at his political enemies, a few of whom might have had children themselves. Still, his claim about Bolling doesn’t come from nowhere: After Bolling’s son died tragically last month, TMZ claimed that he was suffering from “emotional torture” over the accusations against his dad while noting that the circumstances of his death were still a mystery.

This afternoon Bolling himself chimed in to say there’s no connection between the reports about him and his son’s untimely death.

I believe it is beyond inappropriate for anyone to bring in the tragic death of my son Eric Chase Bolling. Just as Bill O’Reilly had wanted to shield his children from the allegations against him, I hope he will honor my request and avoid any future mentions of my son. My parting from Fox News was in no way connected to the tragic news of my son’s passing. The coroner has in fact indicated to us that they believe it was an accident. Unlike others who left Fox News amid public allegations and extensive investigations, I parted ways with Fox News in an amicable way and any reference to a firing is flatly wrong. I have been working on new collaborations which I will be announcing in the next few months.

Actually, he did leave Fox amid public allegations (from unnamed women in HuffPost) and an investigation although the part about him technically not having been fired is true.

Kelly, Carlson, and now Bolling are all against O’Reilly. Interesting. Carlson’s still smacking him on Twitter, in fact:

I wrote about those notes from Kelly to O’Reilly in this post, speculating that they don’t prove jack because they were probably written long before the comments O’Reilly made in November 2016 about harassment that set Kelly off. WaPo confirmed that that’s true: One note was written no later than 2013 (when Kelly had her last child), the other appears to have been written in 2012. I don’t know what O’Reilly thinks he’s proving by pointing out that Kelly once wrote him some nice thank-you cards. But then I also don’t know what he thinks he’s proving by waving around that ridiculous affidavit from Lis Wiehl which he wants people to believe clears him of all wrongdoing. That’s not how I read it. That’s now how lawyer David French reads it either.

2. At the end of 2016, I hired counsel who prepared a draft complaint asserting claims against Bill O’Reilly. We have since resolved all of our issues. I would no longer make the allegations contained in the draft complaint.

Translation: I sued O’Reilly, he paid me $32 million, and I agreed to drop the suit. I “would no longer make the allegations” because every settlement agreement ever created in the entire history of the universe bars the plaintiff from ever again raising her original claims.

Think about this. Imagine someone was preparing to accuse you of something so terrible that you were willing to pay them $32 million to have them shut up about it forever. Ignore the fact that no rational human being would agree to pay even a fraction of that amount if the accusation were baseless; no one is so rich that they can afford to spend tens of millions of dollars to silence allegations that have no hard evidence to support them. Just imagine that you had resolved to enter into this settlement and your lawyer hadn’t already committed seppuku in horror at the thought of letting his client pay out 32 big ones over a claim that, supposedly, has nothing to back it up. Obviously, in return for paying your blackmailer such an exorbitant sum, you would demand a statement from them that left no ambiguity at all that you were innocent of all wrongdoing. Instead, as French notes, O’Reilly ended up with weaselly formulations like “I would no longer make the allegations contained in the draft complaint.” That’s a glaringly awkward way to say what O’Reilly clearly wanted Wiehl to say — “the allegations in the draft complaint were untrue” or “the allegations in the draft complain were based on a misunderstanding” — but couldn’t get her to say. He paid $32 million for an affidavit that doesn’t once say straightforwardly that nothing happened. Like I said in the last post, either he has the worst lawyer in the world or Wiehl “cleared” him only to the extent that she could within the bounds of perjury. Which means never outright denying that misconduct, probably terrible misconduct given the amount of the settlement, did in fact occur.

French argued elsewhere today that O’Reilly should be “Weinsteined” by the right. We’ll see how that goes. I’m curious to watch how Sean Hannity handles the O’Reilly story tonight given the alliance the two have formed recently. Hannity promoted his interview on Glenn Beck’s radio show earlier today. Will he have O’Reilly back on his own Fox News show anytime soon? Will Fox News let him?

Update: All’s well that ends well?

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023