Sparks flew in NBC’s New York studios on Tuesday as author Bill O’Reilly arrived to talk about his new book and April ouster from Fox News Channel.
“Today” show viewers who tuned in Tuesday morning witnessed the first major interview by Mr. O’Reilly since a spate of sexual harassment allegations ended his cable news domination. The former host of “The O’Reilly Factor” showed up ready to spar in a nearly 10-minute interview with host Matt Lauer.
“You were probably the last guy in the world that they wanted to fire,” Mr. Lauer said of Mr. O’Reilly’s exit, which came after Fox reportedly spent $13 million settling harassment claims.
The “Today” show host said it was it was inconceivable that network bosses would abandon their top ratings grabber “unless you have information that you think makes him —”
“That’s not true,” Mr. O’Reilly countered.
The author of “Killing England” said numerous lawsuits were filed against network employees after former Fox News Channel chief executive Roger Ailes’ resignation in July 2016.
“Every allegation is a conviction [in the media],” Mr. O’Reilly said, while explaining why accusers received out-of-court settlements.
“Did you ever have any human resources cases brought against you?” Mr. Lauer asked?
“Not in 42 years,” Mr. O’Reilly replied. “Forty-two years I’ve been in this business. I’ve worked for 12 companies. Not one time did I have any interaction with [human resources] or have any complaints filed against me.”
The two men then talked about sexual harassment claims made by a former Fox News clerical temp named Perquita Burgess.
Mr. O’Reilly noted that she was charged with making a false police report in 2015.
“She could have filed a false report in 2015 and still be telling the truth about you,” replied Mr. Lauer.
“Look, anything is possible, all right? But it goes to credibility, doesn’t it? All right? If you look in totality, this was a hit job — a political and financial hit job.”
“Is this a vast left-wing conspiracy?” asked the “Today” host.
“No, ‘vast,’ and don’t be sarcastic. Don’t be sarcastic,” said the author.
Mr. O’Reilly closed out the topic by saying his legal team would clear his name.
“There are more things to come,” he said.