Beleaguered former cable-news star Bill O’Reilly thought he’d find a sympathizer in fellow ex-Fox News host Eric Bolling. But he bet wrong.
In an audio interview released Monday by The New York Times, a combative O’Reilly accuses reporters Emily Steel and Michael E. Schmidt of being part of a liberal conspiracy to ruin his life by reporting on the many allegations of sexual harassment against him.
“It’s been a horrendous experience,” O’Reilly said of the accusations and his subsequent firing. “The pain it brings to my children is indescribable. And I would give up my life to protect my children, but I find myself not being able to protect them because of things being said about me, their father.”
He then invoked the death of Bolling’s 19-year-old son to claim the media’s reporting on various Fox News sexual-harassment scandals has ended more than just careers.
“I urge you to think about what you put in your newspaper. Eric Bolling’s son is dead. Is dead. Because of allegations made—in my opinion, and I know this to be true—against Mr. Bolling.”
Eric Chase Bolling was found dead in early September, the day after Fox News announced that it had parted ways with his father following an investigation of claims that the elder Bolling had sent explicit images and texts to female colleagues.
On Monday, after O’Reilly attempted to use that tragedy—believed to be an accident—to warn reporters off sexual-harassment reporting, an indignant Bolling responded.
“I believe it is beyond inappropriate for anyone to bring in the tragic death of my son Eric Chase Bolling,” he wrote in a statement to the Times. “Just as Bill O’Reilly had wanted to shield his children from the allegations against him, I hope he will honor my request and avoid any future mentions of my son.”
The former Fox News Specialist host didn’t stop there.
“My parting from Fox News was in no way connected to the tragic news of my son’s passing. The coroner has in fact indicated to us that they believe it was an accident,” he noted, before distancing his own Fox scandal from that of O’Reilly and Roger Ailes.
“Unlike others who left Fox News amid public allegations and extensive investigations, I parted ways with Fox News in an amicable way.”
He signed the statement: “Eric Bolling (dad).”
While O’Reilly was unable to manipulate any sympathy out of Bolling, he did find on Monday the welcoming arms of another former colleague: Glenn Beck.
Later Monday, O’Reilly apologized to Bolling, writing on Twitter: “Apologies to Eric Bolling and prayers for him and his family. The message I tried to send was that allegations harm kids. Nothing more.”
Bolling later responded and accepted O’Reilly’s apology.