A onetime regular Fox News guest on Monday said that top host Bill O’Reilly became “very hostile” and froze her out of a job opportunity after she turned down inappropriate advances he made in 2013.
“Early in 2013 a regular segment was created for me on ‘The O’Reilly Factor,” Wendy Walsh told reporters at a press conference. “Three weeks after I began the segment, my dreams came true. I received an email from Mr. O’Reilly’s assistant asking me to join him for dinner in Los Angeles.”
Walsh said that she was “really excited” about the meeting, which she assumed was a “business dinner” and would come with a job offer to become a contributor at the network.
“He told me early in the dinner that he thought I was a very beautiful woman,” she said.
The press conference came on the heels of a report published Saturday by the New York Times which revealed that at least five women took a total of $13 million in settlements after accusing O’Reilly of sexual harassment.
Walsh said that O’Reilly told her at the dinner that former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who resigned in 2016 amid a corporate investigation into several sexual harassment lawsuits against him, was a close friend of his.
“He complimented me on my work that I’d done so far and he assured me that Roger Ailes would sign off and I would be a paid contributor,” she said. “When dinner was finished he simply said, ‘Let’s get out of here.'”
Walsh said that she assumed O’Reilly meant they should move to the hotel’s bar, but after the two left the restaurant, she said that they walked in different directions — Walsh toward the bar and O’Reilly towards the hotel’s bedrooms.
“He caught up with me and said, ‘No, no. Come back to my suite,'” Walsh said.
When she refused, Walsh said, O’Reilly “immediately got defensive and said, ‘What, you think I’m going to attack you or something?'”
Walsh said that she and O’Reilly went to the bar, where he “got very hostile very quickly.”
“He told me, ‘Flat-out forget any career advice I gave you,'” she said.
In the weeks after that meeting, Walsh said that her “small talk off-air” with O’Reilly “stopped abruptly.”
“I could feel him getting colder and more distant and, with every appearance, my job opportunities getting further and further away from me,” she said.
Walsh said that she did not go forward with a sexual harassment claim because at the time she was not an employee of Fox News, and thought that would invalidate her allegations.
“I just expected that he would get over it and he would behave like a professional,” she said. “I’m not litigious. I don’t want any money, there’s no lawsuit, it’s just authentic honesty. I’m just a single mom who wanted to work, and that’s what happened to me.”
Asked if she wants O’Reilly fired, Walsh said: “I don’t care what they do to him.”
Attorney Lisa Bloom said that she and Walsh plan to cooperate with any investigation into the allegations against O’Reilly and Fox News.
Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky on Monday filed a lawsuit against the network alleging that its top executives retaliated against her for refusing and complaining about inappropriate sexual advances made by Ailes.
Though Walsh did not file a suit, she told the New York Times that after their meeting O’Reilly never followed through on his offer to secure a position for her as a network contributor. Walsh said that she continued to appear on “The O’Reilly Factor” for about four months afterward before she was removed from the show.