The embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly got powerful backing on Wednesday from none other than the president of the United States, who called him “a good person.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Trump praised Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly, just days after The Times reported that the host had been involved in five settlements with women who said he had harassed them. The deals resulted in payouts totaling about $13 million.
“Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” Mr. Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office with Times reporters. “Because you should have taken it all the way; I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Mr. Trump said.
President Trump spoke as Mr. O’Reilly continued to face a severe advertising backlash over The Times’s article, with more than 20 sponsors pulling out of his show over the last few days.
Mr. O’Reilly has said that the accusations against him are without merit and that his fame has made him a target.
Mr. Trump had frequently granted interviews to Mr. O’Reilly during his political rise, including a period when Mr. Trump was fighting with the network, with particularly harsh attacks against Mr. O’Reilly’s former colleague, Megyn Kelly.
But Wednesday’s support was more than a glimpse into the relationship between Mr. Trump and Mr. O’Reilly. It was a United States president giving backing to his network of choice, one whose founding executive, Rupert Murdoch, has close ties to his family.
An initial Trump skeptic, Mr. Murdoch drew closer to Mr. Trump in the months after he clinched the Republican nomination and they speak frequently.