Bill O’Reilly is filing a $5-million defamation lawsuit against a former New Jersey politician who wrote a lengthy statement defending an ex-partner who he said publicly settled her case against the former Fox News host.
Michael Panter wrote in a Facebook post that his ex, whom he did not identify, came home from work stressed and confessed to him that O’Reilly had hit on her. He said she was also subjected to late-night calls from O’Reilly.
In his post, Panter said that on one occasion he overheard O’Reilly on the phone asking her to ask her to dig up dirt on a new accuser — with the knowledge of senior Fox News officials: "He asked if anything was known about her sex life. He asked if she used any illegal drugs. He also asked if anything was known about her financial situation and marriage."
Fox News declined to comment on the post, but an insider at the company said Panter appeared to be referring to an alleged call made more than six years ago, and no executive currently working at Fox News could have been on such a call.
After the New York Times revealed fresh allegations against the news host over the weekend, Panter said he decided to speak out because he was outraged after hearing O’Reilly repeatedly state he did nothing wrong.
Panter, who served as a Democrat in the New Jersey state assembly between 2004-08, said that while his ex might be bound by a non-disclosure agreement, “I am not.”
In response to Panter's Facebook post, O'Reilly spokesman Mark Fabiani released a statement to BuzzFeed News:
Panter’s post is completely contrived, false and defamatory, aimed at hurting Bill O’Reilly and his family. Mr. O’Reilly will be commencing legal action against Mr. Panter, and the ex-partner he quotes, for all damages he and his family have suffered from this improper conduct.
O’Reilly filed the summons in New York over Panter’s “intentional, malicious, and bad faith actions in making defamatory and false statements in a publicly-available social post.”
O’Reilly said he is seeking damages for the “public hatred, ridicule, disgrace, and permanent harm to his professional and personal reputation.”
After being notified of the lawsuit, Panter posted at statement on his Facebook "I am speaking the truth, and expect my account to be fully corroborated. His actions give me a small sense of what victims must feel when speaking up against powerful men, and why more men hesitate to do so. I spoke up, and hope we can all support one another."
Last week, O'Reilly also lashed out at the New York Times, saying that the paper's story alleging he paid a massive $32 million settlement to a woman who accused him of sexual harassment was an attempt to smear him and ruin his career prospects.