Veteran broadcaster Bill O’Reilly scored a major victory in U.S. District Court in Manhattan this week as a judge threw out a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a disgruntled ex-TV producer.
Judge Deborah Batts on Thursday dismissed former Fox News producer Rachel Bernstein’s suit which claimed O’Reilly – forced out at Fox News after allegations by several women including Bernstein – made 12 defamatory statements about her in the media.
After Bernstein’s complaints first surfaced, O’Reilly defended himself, saying the claims were a “hit job”' and that Bernstein was “politically and financially motivated.”
O’Reilly’s lawyer Andrew Bourne said in a statement: “Mr. O’Reilly has drawn the line. He will fight hard to protect his family and his reputation, and we’re pleased that Judge Batts once again saw the suit for what it is by dismissing it with prejudice.’’
O’Reilly -- a bestselling author whose latest book is “The United States of Trump: How the President Really Sees America,” -- led America’s highest-rated cable news broadcast for 16 consecutive years on Fox.
O’Reilly now hosts his podcast on Billoreilly.com as well as a weekly show -- “No Spin News” — on Newsmax TV.
In 2017, Bernstein sued O’Reilly, Fox News and 21st Century Fox, claiming statements they made about sexual harassment claims that have been settled were defamatory and violated the non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses of a settlement she had accepted in 2002.
The court tossed the complaint in March, but allowed Bernstein to make amendments to her action against O’Reilly.
On Thursday, Batts stated that Bernstein’s revised accusations did not meet the standard of defamation under New York State law.
“To plead special harm, a plaintiff must 'fully and accurately' state 'the loss of something having economic or pecuniary value which must flow directly from the injury to reputation caused by the defamation,'" Batts wrote in her decision, a copy of which was published by The Hollywood Reporter. “Emotional distress from a plaintiff’s knowledge that he or she was defamed is not special harm, even if it resulted in out-of-pocket medical costs.”
Bernstein would have had to have shown that O’Reilly had charged her with a serious crime, or said she had a “loathsome disease.”
Statements such as “shakedown,” and “no good” did not rise to that level, according to Batts.
Batts, who was nominated to her position by President Bill Clinton in 1993, is the nation’s first openly gay African American federal judge and has been involved in high-profile rulings in the past.
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