Although 23 advertisers have withdrawn their support and ads for The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News due to multiple allegations of sexual harrassment, the veteran backslapper has won support from friend Donald Trump. In an interview with The New York Times, Trump said: “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong … I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person.”

Fox News and O’Reilly have settled five claims of sexual harassment against the host for a total of US$13 million (including the largest of US$9 million settled by O’Reilly himself).

Trump said in the interview that O’Reilly’s only mistake was in settling the lawsuits.“I think he shouldn’t have settled, personally. I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way,” said Trump, whose was seen in last year’s election campaign on an old Access Hollywood video in which he was heard bragging about being so famous he could grab women “by the pussy” with impunity. White, college-educated women ignored those comments and voted for Trump over Hilary Clinton in the November 8 election.

Several media reports pointed out that Trump’s latest comments after a White House press release last week touted Trump proclaiming April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. “At the heart of our country is the emphatic belief that every person has unique and infinite value,” he wrote. “We dedicate each April to raising awareness about sexual abuse and recommitting ourselves to fighting it. Women, children and men have inherent dignity that should never be violated.”

O’Reilly’s ratings have held up on Monday and Tuesday night of this week with around 3.7 million people watching — down on his 3.9 million March quarter average. The Tuesday night audience of 3.76 million was up 20% on the previous Tuesday as people tuned in to see if O’Reilly would comment on the New York Times story and advertiser fallout. Most advertisers are not leaving Fox; they are reallocating their ad dollars elsewhere on the network. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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