Thursday, September 21, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bill O’Reilly Sues Ex-Pol Over ‘Defamatory’ Facebook Post

Former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly officially commenced litigation against Michael Panter, a former New Jersey assemblyman over a "#metoo"-related Facebook post, which O'Reilly's attorney says is "contrived, false and defamatory."

LONG ISLAND (CN) – Former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly officially commenced litigation against Michael Panter, a former New Jersey assemblyman over a "#metoo"-related Facebook post, which O'Reilly's attorney says is "contrived, false and defamatory."

The two page summons was filed in Nassau County reports.

O'Reilly seeks $5 million in damages "for the public hatred, ridicule, disgrace, and permanent harm to his professional and personal reputations" caused by the 668-word public Facebook post.

The summons was filed by attorney Frederic Newman at the Manhattan-based firm Houget Newman Regal & Kenney.

Last Tuesday, Panter took to Facebook to present an ex-girlfriend's experience at Fox News, who was bound to silence by a non-disclosure agreement. Panter noted in the post, "Bill should be aware that not everyone is bound by a non-disclosure. I am not."

Motivated by the wave of women reporting sexual harassment in the weeks since the Harvey Weinstin scandal broke, Panter concluded his post with his explanation: "I am just trying as a man to call bullshit on another ‘man’ when I see it, and to do so publicly and non-anonymously."

In the post, Panter recalled overhearing a phone call from O'Reilly to his ex, seeking any information to besmirch another in a series of women who have accused O'Reilly of sexual harassment.

"This latest victim was someone my ex knew, and lived in the same complex. He got to the point immediately: give me anything you have on this woman, which we "can use against her," Panter wrote in the Facebook post.

Panter said O'Reilly was digging for any personal dirt on the accuser, including her sex life, finances and possible drug use, summing up the call as "in essence, the leadership of Fox, including their ‘HR’ head/counsel and O'Reilly, who held my ex's career in their hands (and whom O'Reilly was also harassing) was demanding information to attack another victim.”

The former assemblyman said his ex did not give up information, instead offering "innocuous" facts.

As of Friday evening, Panter's post has been shared 429 times, including a repost on Thursday by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson saying Panter's story gave her chills and then implored all companies to reform their workplaces.

"You have to publicly identify, condemn, and fire sexual harassers and their enablers. You have to release victims of sexual harassment from NDAs, and stop your intimidation of women who've been harassed. You have to change,” Carlson wrote.

In September 2016, Carlson settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes for a reported $20 million and a public apology Tuesday, ending the case that triggered the downfall of Fox's chief executive.

The pattern of intimidation and shaming in Panter's post recalls similar claims made in a lawsuit by former Fox News on-air personality Julie Roginsk, who accused Fox News and network co-president Bill Shine of retaliating against her after she refused to disparage Gretchen Carlson.

In a statement, Panter said he’s toying with the idea of countersuing O’Reilly on defamation claims of his own.

"I am speaking the truth, and expect my account to be fully corroborated,” Panter said. “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 I'll be supported as I've supported others.

“After discussing this matter with a leading firm, I believe there is a strong basis to bring defamation claims against Mr. O'Reilly. Since I am not seeking personal gain, any recovery would be devoted to groups supporting victims of sexual harassment and abuse. It is my hope that course of action will not be necessary, and these matters can be more amicably resolved."

Follow @jruss_jruss
Categories / Courts, Media

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.