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Attorney Lisa Bloom on O’Reilly Exit: ‘We Can Slay Dragons’

Variety logo Variety 4/19/2017 Ted Johnson
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Attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents Wendy Walsh and other accusers of Bill O’Reilly, declared victory on the news that the Fox News host will not return to the network.

“This is what happens when women speak our truth: we can slay dragons,” she said in a statement to Variety. “I am very proud to have stood with my brave clients who stood up for themselves and all the silenced women. Fox News should have fired him in 2004 when Andrea Mackris spoke out, but at least they did it now. They did it because we persisted.”

Bloom also represents an unidentified African American woman who called into a company hotline on Tuesday to claim that O’Reilly engaged in sexual and racial harassment, and a third client, Caroline Heldman, a professor at Occidental College, called in to the hotline to make claims against O’Reilly on Wednesday. Bloom also said that New York state authorities should investigate Fox News no matter what happened with O’Reilly. She had requested that they launch an inquiry into sexual and racial harassment at the network.

Walsh, who was once a contributor on “The O’Reilly Factor,” told CNN that she was “thrilled that a corporation has made this seismic shift to put women’s rights ahead of their bottom line.”

Earlier this month, she appeared with Bloom at a press conference to outline her accusations. Walsh accused O’Reilly of making sexual advances to her when they met for a dinner in Los Angeles in 2013. After she rejected him, she said that his attitude toward her changed and she was later dropped as a contributor.

O’Reilly has denied the merits of the allegations, and his attorney has said that he has “been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.” His attorney, Marc Kasowitz, also said that the “smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons.”

Meanwhile, one of the groups that protested O’Reilly suggested that their campaign is not over. Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, called for 21st Century Fox to make the results of its investigation of the accusations against O’Reilly public.

“Unless Fox News makes the results of the investigation public, and fires all those found guilty of, or complicit in, covering up sexual harassment, advertisers and the general public will continue to have cause for concern,” she said. “With reports that dozens of additional women at the network have not yet come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, the next scandal for the network may just be months away.”

Another group that worked on the campaign to pressure advertisers, Media Matters, called on Fox News to also fire Bill Shine, co-president of the network.

Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, cited allegations that Shine retaliated against women with reports against former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes as well as those who came forward against O’Reilly. Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky made those claims in a lawsuit she filed earlier this month.

“If Fox News wants to signal that they’re serious about addressing sexual harassment, they’ll fire Bill Shine too. If not, then staff, advertisers and shareholders should beware,” Carusone said.

In a letter to employees on Wednesday, the Murdochs said they sought to “underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.” O’Reilly’s departure took place just weeks after an outside law firm for the company looked into the claims. The law firm also examined allegations against Ailes last summer, and he resigned within weeks.

Roginsky’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, said that the departure of O’Reilly was “an important next step to clean up Fox News and make it a respectful and professional work environment.” She called on Fox News parent 21st Century Fox to “resolve without delay” the claims of Roginsky and other women “who have been harassed, intimidated, demeaned and discriminated against.” She also called on the company to release employees from mandatory arbitration and confidentiality clauses in their contracts.

Smith also represented Gretchen Carlson, who last year settled a claim against Ailes. Her lawsuit led to his ouster.

On Wednesday, after a number of Twitter followers thanked her for coming forward last year, setting off a chain of events that led to the ouster of Ailes and O’Reilly, she thanked them back.

“The only way to end harassment is to shine a light on it. Ask Congress to pass the Fairness in Arbitration Act. No more silencing women!” she tweeted.

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