O’Reilly Apologizes to Bolling for Invoking Son’s Death in Harassment Dispute

Bill O'Reilly / Getty

Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly apologized to his former colleague Eric Bolling on Monday after he invoked the death of Bolling's son while discussing his sexual harassment allegations.

Bolling disputed O'Reilly's account of the facts surrounding his son's death and his relationship with Fox News and then told him it was inappropriate to mention his son, according to the Daily Beast. In a recorded interview released by the New York Times on Monday, O'Reilly appeared to criticize reporters Emily Steel and Michael E. Schmidt and to accuse them of being part of a liberal conspiracy to destroy his reputation by reporting on the sexual allegations against him.

"The pain it brings to my children is indescribable," O'Reilly said. "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."

O'Reilly then invoked the death of Bolling's 19-year-old son, Eric Chase Bolling, who was found dead one 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."

"I urge you to think about what you put in your newspaper," O'Reilly said. "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."

Bolling pushed back against O'Reilly's comments in a statement and said that it was "beyond inappropriate" to bring his son's tragic death into the conversation about the media's treatment of him.

"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. "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."

"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," Bolling noted, before distancing his own Fox scandal from that of O’Reilly and the late Fox News founder Roger Ailes.

O'Reilly apologized to Bolling on Twitter Monday evening for his previous comments.

"Apologies to Eric Bolling and prayers for him and his family. The message I tried to send was that allegations harm kids. Nothing more," O'Reilly wrote.

"Eric Bolling is a stand up guy who deserves the respect I have for him," O'Reilly added in a follow-up tweet.