Media Moves

Steel of NY Times talks about the O’Reilly story

October 24, 2017

Posted by Chris Roush

Emily Steel
Emily Steel

New York Times media reporter Emily Steel spoke with UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism dean Susan King about her career and how she and reporter Michael Schmidt broke the news about Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment history.

Steel said that the story originated after Fox News head Roger Ailes was ousted for similar claims. An editor remembered that O’Reilly had been sued in 2004 for sexual harassment, but the women had settled the case.

Steel and Schmidt decided to go back and re-report that case to see how it affected women who work at Fox News.

“We were trying to figure out a way at the Times to distinguish ourselves and get ahead of the story,” said Steel.

In the midst of reporting their story, they discovered that other women had made similar allegations against O’Reilly and that he had settled five cases for $15 million. The Times published its story on Aug. 1, and it led to protests and an advertising boycott.

O’Reilly left Fox News within three weeks.

Steel credited Schmidt for working with her in determining how to get sources.

“We would talk for hours and hours each day about how we should talk to people and get them to talk,” said Steel.

“A lot of it is old fashioned, picking up the phone and talking to people and really getting stories and original reporting.”

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