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Bill O'Reilly, Fox News sued by woman who settled harassment complaint

A woman who settled a harassment complaint against Bill O’Reilly more than a decade ago filed suit Monday against the former television news show host and his former employer, Fox News, for defamation and breach of contract.

>> Read more trending news

In court records obtained by The New York Times, Rachel Witilieb Bernstein said statements made by O’Reilly and Fox News after the allegations were made public have painted her as a liar and an extortionist, while also violating the settlement’s confidentiality clause.

According to The Times, Bernstein, who worked as a junior producer for Fox News, settled with O’Reilly and the news network in July 2002 after she made multiple complaints about O’Reilly’s behavior.

>> Related: Fox News ends relationship with Bill O’Reilly, O’Reilly responds

“O’Reilly portrayed himself as a ‘target’ and claimed that complaints against him are extortionate,” the lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said, according to The Times. “This is false. In fact, he is a serial abuser and Ms. Bernstein’s complaints about him were far from extortionate.”

As part of the 2002 settlement, all involved parties agreed to say only that the matter had been settled if asked about the allegations.

“Knowing Ms. Bernstein and Mr. O’Reilly’s other victims are afraid to speak out because he and Fox forced them to sign nondisclosure agreements, O’Reilly and Fox have made false and disparaging claims,” Neil Mullin, an attorney for Bernstein, said in a statement obtained by The Times. “They should release all victims from their NDAs and let the truth out. It is cowardly to publicly attack these women knowing they have been subjected to contractual provisions requiring absolute silence.”

O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.

>> Related: 7 things to know about former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly

Fox News cut ties with O’Reilly in April after multiple women claimed the popular news show host sexually harassed and verbally abused them. Bernstein did not accuse O’Reilly of sexual harassment. Among other incidents, current and former Fox News employees told The Times that O’Reilly “stormed into the newsroom and screamed” at Bernstein in 2002.

The Times reported that about $13 million was paid out to five women who have accused O’Reilly of harassment, including Bernstein.

At least one other settlement has since been reached involving O’Reilly and allegations of sexual harassment. In October, The Times reported that Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl settled for $32 million.

Billy Bush says Trump 'Access Hollywood' tape is real in scathing op-ed

Former "Access Hollywood" and "Today" host Billy Bush is back in the spotlight.

In a scathing New York Times op-ed published Sunday, Bush said the 2005 tape that captured now-President Donald Trump making explicit comments about groping women is real.

>> 'SNL': Trump meets ghosts of Flynn, Billy Bush, Putin, Hillary Clinton in 'Christmas Carol' parody

"Of course he said it," wrote Bush, who was heard laughing and egging on Trump in the hot-mic audio that surfaced during the 2016 election. "And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America's highest-rated bloviator."

Bush said he and the seven other witnesses on the bus during the recording assumed Trump was just performing.

>> Billy Bush hospitalized after being hit on the head with a golf ball

"We now know better," Bush wrote.

Bush, who was fired from his job as a "Today" host last year in wake of the controversy, said he believes the women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct after the tape surfaced.

"To these women: I will never know the fear you felt or the frustration of being summarily dismissed and called a liar, but I do know a lot about the anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump," Bush wrote. "You have my respect and admiration. You are culture warriors at the forefront of necessary change."

>> Read more trending news

The editorial came amid reports that Trump is now privately questioning the tape's authenticity, even though he previously apologized for his comments.

"President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his," Bush wrote. "This has hit a raw nerve in me."

Read the full op-ed here.

Photos: Kennedy Center Honors 2017

Carmen de Lavallade, Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J and Lionel Richie were recognized at the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump did not attend.

Mitch Margo, who took 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' to No. 1 in 1961, dead at 70

Mitch Margo, who rose to fame with the 1961 hit song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” died at his California home, The Los Angeles Times reported. He was 70.

>> Read more trending news

Family members said Margo died Nov. 24 in Studio City but did not give a cause.

Margo was a 14-year-old attending high school in Brooklyn, New York, when he formed The Tokens, the Times reported.

The group based “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on a recording of a Zulu folk song, turning it into a doo-wop hit. It hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts on Dec. 23, 1961, and stayed there for three weeks before being supplanted by Chubby Checker’s hit “The Twist,” which hit No. 1 for the second time on Jan. 13, 1962.

The Tokens followed up with several minor hits, including “I Hear Trumpets Blow” and “Portrait of My Love,” the Times reported.

Margo teamed with his brother Phil and two others in The Tokens. He later produced hits for bands such as The Chiffons and Tony Orlando and Dawn. He also wrote musical scores for television projects and did artwork for children’s books, the Times reported.

“Mitch was an adjective-defying human being,” Noah Margo, a nephew who played drums for the Tokens for 24 years, told the Times. “His humor, wit and slanted observations will be deeply missed.”

Margo was born May 25, 1947. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was originally written and recorded by Solomon Linda, a South African laborer, in 1939. The record was released by the Gallo Record Company under the title “Mbube,” the Zulu word for “lion,” the Times reported.

The song would be recorded by 150 different artists, including Robert John, who took the song to No. 3 on the Billboard charts in 1972 and earned a gold record. 

But when it was used in the film “The Lion King,” and generated an estimated $15 million in movie and stage revenues, Linda’s heirs sued the Walt Disney Co. and the music firm that licensed the song to Disney. The case was eventually settled by Linda's heirs for an estimated $1.6 million, the Times reported.

The Tokens, who made dramatic musical changes to the song, gave Linda credit but later fought to claim some share of the song's publishing rights, the Times reported. The group's lawsuit was ultimately dismissed due to a statute of limitations ruling.

'SNL': Trump meets ghosts of Flynn, Billy Bush, Putin, Hillary Clinton in 'Christmas Carol' parody

"Saturday Night Live" gave President Donald Trump's White House a "Christmas Carol" spin in the latest episode's cold open.

>> Trump reacts to Flynn's guilty plea by slamming Hillary Clinton, 'rigged system'

In the sketch, which quickly shot to the top spot on YouTube's trending videos list early Sunday, Alec Baldwin's Trump got a holiday visit from "Ghost of Witness Flipped" Michael Flynn (Mikey Day), Billy Bush (Alex Moffat), Russian President Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett) and Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon).

>> Read more trending news

"You have no idea how long I've wanted to say this: Lock him up!" McKinnon's Clinton said while pointing at Flynn (Day) and cackling.

>> Click here or scroll down to watch (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

Matt Lauer won't get multimillion-dollar payout from NBC, report says

Fired NBC host Matt Lauer’s contract called for him to receive tens of millions of dollars, but it doesn’t look like the network will be paying him another dime after firing him for sexual misconduct in the workplace.

>> Matt Lauer responds to sexual misconduct allegations

The former “Today” personality “will not be paid past his last day of work,” according to a senior NBC source who spoke with CNN on Friday.

Rumors have been swirling that Lauer’s lawyers would likely fight for him to get a large payout. It was predicted that the payout could be around $30 million, considering the fact that he made about $20 million a year to host “Today” and that his contract had been extended through the first half of 2019. According to the source, however, the network will not agree to a payout, as television news contracts typically include a morals clause.

>> On Rare.us: Geraldo Rivera responds after Bette Midler accused him of groping her 40 years ago

It’s also unlikely that Lauer himself will lobby too hard for the payout, according to two people close to him, given that he has likely already been paid well over $100 million during his time at NBC. He reportedly accepted the network’s decision to terminate his contract and expressed remorse during his firing late Tuesday.

The bombshell news was announced by Lauer’s co-host, Savannah Guthrie, with the help of Hoda Kotb during an emotional episode of “Today” on Wednesday morning. 

>> Read more trending news

The following day, Lauer addressed the controversy in a statement:

"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC. Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching, and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace."

Melania Trump's Christmas decorations inspire mean memes

Ahead of her first holiday season in Washington, Melania Trump gave the nation its first look at the White House's Christmas decorations this week.

>> Read more trending news

Along with a wide array of giant brightly lit trees, decorated treats and a massive gingerbread house, a theme of "The Nutcracker Suite" adorns parts of the White House, complete with trees and matching crystal ornaments.

Most of the decorations seemed to sit well with most people, but it turns out things get a little different after dark, especially in the East Colonnade.

It turns out a nighttime photo showing the hall decked with large white pots loaded with white branches that seem to stretch to the ceiling inspires a reaction much closer to "no, no, no" than a festive "ho, ho, ho" across parts of social media. 

It's a photo that has inspired many memes that'd probably land people on Santa's naughty list.

Ric Flair says he's available for Tennessee football coaching job

Wrestling icon Ric Flair tossed his hat in the ring for the Tennessee head football coach or athletic director openings on Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Flair posted a picture on Twitter of himself cropped into a photo with a Tennessee polo shirt with the caption, “If the shirt fits hire him! Available for either position! WOOOOO!”

Tennessee has yet to find a new football coach after the firing of Butch Jones on Nov. 12 despite several interviews and reportedly coming close to several deals.

Tennessee athletic director John Currie was fired Friday after failing to find a new coach and student protests on campus that called for his job over the past week.

Tennessee did name an athletic director later Friday, hiring Hall of Fame football coach Phillip Fulmer.

Fulmer coached the Volunteers from 1992 to 2008, going 152-52 overall and leading Tennessee to the 1998 national title.

Geraldo Rivera apologizes to Bette Midler after alleged groping 40 years ago

Geraldo Rivera recently responded to allegations against him made by Bette Midler.

The actress alleged that the TV host groped her during an encounter in the 1970s. Rivera apologized to Midler on Twitter, as well as others who he said he may have hurt with the release of his 1991 book, “Exposing Myself.”

>> Read more trending news

Midler made the accusations against Rivera public on Thursday, when she shared a 1991 video of an interview with Barbara Walters with fans on Twitter.

“This was when he was very… sort of hot and he and his producer left the crew in the other room, they pushed me into my bathroom, they broke two poppers and pushed them under my nose and proceeded to grope me,” Midler said in the video

“Groped?” Walters responded.

“Groped me,” Midler said. “I did not offer myself up on the altar of Geraldo Rivera. He was unseemly. His behavior was unseemly.”

The actress told fans that she decided to share the video after Rivera defended former “Today” anchor Matt Lauer following news of his firing.

“Sad about Matt Lauer. Great guy, highly skilled and empathetic with guests and a real gentleman to my family and me,” Rivera tweeted in Lauer’s defense Wednesday. “News is a flirty business and it seems like current epidemic of sex harassment allegations may be criminalizing courtship and conflating it with predation. What about Garrison Keillor?”

Related: Geraldo Rivera apologizes after tweeting defense of Matt Lauer

Rivera later apologized for the tweets, saying, “Reaction to my tweets today on #sexharassment makes clear I didn't sufficiently explain that this is a horrendous problem. Long hidden-harassers are deviants who deserve what is coming to them. Often victims are too frightened to come forward in a timely fashion. I humbly apologize.”

Midler to shared her #metoo story the next day, tweeting, “tomorrow is my birthday. I feel like this video was a gift from the universe to me. Geraldo may have apologized for his tweets supporting Matt Lauer, but he has yet to apologize for this.”

The video was enough to prompt a response from Rivera.

“Twenty seven years ago I wrote a tawdry book depicting consensual events in 1973-45 years ago. I’ve deeply regretted its distasteful and disrespectful tone and have refrained from speaking about it. I’m embarrassed and profoundly sorry to those mentioned. I have and again apologize to anyone offended,” he wrote in one tweet.

Rivera quickly followed up with a second tweet directed specifically to Midler. “Although I recall the time @BetteMidler has alluded to much differently than she, that does not change the fact that she has a right to speak out and demand an apology from me, for in the very least, (publicly) embarrassing her all those years ago. Bette, I apologize.”

Creepy Matt Lauer interview with Sandra Bullock, I’ve ‘seen you naked’

Matt Lauer’s alleged predilection for the ladies had no bounds, according to a recently unearthed 2009 interview the former “Today” anchor did with actress Sandra Bullock.

>> Read more trending news

Bullock, who was promoting her film “The Proposal,” sat down for an interview with Lauer, but instead got more than she bargained for when he started off the line of questioning.

“The major thing that has changed since you were here last,” Lauer began, “is that I have now seen you naked.”

>> Related: Hoda and Savannah dropped the smiles when reporting on the latest Matt Lauer development

Bullock laughed along with Lauer and the off-camera crew, but then he added: “It’s now my screensaver.”

He then continued to ask her questions about doing nudity for the film, which she clarified she would only do nudity for comedy.

Lauer was fired Tuesday night — news of it broke early Wednesday — for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with a colleague. Since his termination, at least five other women have come forward with additional allegations against the ex-anchor.

After chatting some more about the film, Lauer then came full circle, back to the nudity, asking “Did I mention you have a nude scene in this movie?”

>> Related: Does Megyn Kelly want Matt Lauer’s “Today” gig?

Bullock laughed, to which he asked her to “come back more often.”

“No, not after this interview, no,” the actress replied as Lauer and the crew laughed.

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