O’Reilly says Fox ouster was ‘hit job’

Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly called his ouster from the network “a political and financial hit job” in an interview Tuesday with NBC's Matt Lauer on “Today.”

“There were billions of dollars at stake in business deals and they made a business decision that they could prosper without me,” said O'Reilly.

“They had a contractual clause that they could pay me a certain amount of money and not put me on the air and they exercised that clause."

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O’Reilly left Fox months after The New York Times reported that the network had settled five sexual harassment lawsuits against the host for an estimated $13 million.

After the settlements became public, advertisers began fleeing O’Reilly’s program, and Fox parted ways with its former star anchor.

O’Reilly said he was innocent of all of the charges in the interview with Lauer.

“I can go to sleep at night very well knowing that I never mistreated anyone on my watch in 42 years,” he said.

When asked by Lauer why he didn't fight back against his accusers and sue for defamation, O'Reilly said those kind of lawsuits were difficult for public figures to win. 

“You cannot win those lawsuits if you’re a public figure; you cannot win them,” O’Reilly said. “I could do that, but the collateral damage of these lawsuits, the press frenzy — every allegation is a conviction. They don’t look for the truth.”

As he has in recent interviews promoting his new book, "Killing England," O'Reilly pointed the finger at Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog organization, which he dubbed as part of a cabal of “radical left groups” that targeted advertisers to boycott him in an effort to exert pressure on the network to get rid of its biggest star. 

“This was a hit job, a political and financial hit job,” O'Reilly said. “Every allegation in this era is a conviction ... there isn't a smoking gun.”

"Is this a vast left-wing conspiracy?" Lauer asked, alluding to an infamous talking point from the second half of the Clinton administration. 
 
"Don't be sarcastic," O'Reilly said.  

O'Reilly told Fox's Sean Hannity on his radio program Tuesday that he has launched an investigation into what he believes was a concerted effort to get him ousted from Fox News.

“We're going to be very precise,” said O'Reilly.

“What we're going to uncover is shocking,” he added, without going into detail.

“Killing England,” about the Revolutionary War, was released on Tuesday.