LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Popular former Fox News host Bill O‘Reilly, who was fired over allegations of sexual harassment, said on Tuesday he was the victim of a “political and financial hit job” and that he had never mistreated anyone in his 42-year career.
In his first TV interview since being fired in April, O‘Reilly, whose pugnacious “The O‘Reilly Factor” was the most-watched cable news show, said he was brought down by sponsor boycotts and wider business decisions at Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.
“This was hit job, a political and financial hit job,” O‘Reilly said in the interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
“There were a lot of other business things in play at that time and still today that 21st Century was involved with,” he added.
A Fox representative did not immediately return calls for comment.
O‘Reilly gave no details but Fox is currently seeking government approval in the UK for its $15 billion bid to take over broadcaster Sky.
O‘Reilly was forced out after a New York Times report that he had paid five women a total of $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims in the past. Nine months earlier, then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes resigned after facing similar allegations. Ailes died in May.
O‘Reilly on Tuesday again denied any wrongdoing in his interactions with women at Fox, and said he was fighting to clear his name.
”My conscience is clear,“ he said. ”What I have done is organize a legal team to get the truth to the American people.
“Nobody’s a perfect person, but I can go to sleep at night very well knowing that I never mistreated anyone on my watch in 42 years.”
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Matthew Lewis