Fox Mole says legal threats are 'baseless' [updated]
The Fox Mole, former "O'Reilly Factor" associate producer Joe Muto, is out of a job at Fox News, but that doesn't mean his relationship with his former employer is completely over. If anything, it's just getting more interesting.
Following Muto's swift dismissal on Thursday (he was notified of his dismissal via hand-delivered letter), Fox News issued a legal threat to Gawker Media through attorneys at the law firm of Epstein Becker & Green, warning that the information Muto shared on Gawker was an admission of "likely criminal and civil wrongdoing on both his and Gawker's part, which will be the subject of further extensive investigation."
Gawker, for its part, thumbed its nose at the complaint by posting it in full, along with a photo of a much younger Bill O'Reilly posing with some bros and a topless woman. Just the kind of thing Fox News was asking to be removed from the site.
Muto declined to speak to The Times by phone, but did offer a statement, saying, "Fox's legal threats are completely baseless, and are an obvious attempt to intimidate me into silence."
Even though he was outed and fired this week, Muto had promised to share more tales of life within the Fox News organization on Gawker, which paid him a reported $5,000 for the series of posts that ended his career, according to Forbes.
Muto spent part of Thursday watching "The O'Reilly Factor" and tweeting about the final segment he wrote for the show: a sitcom-themed edition of the news quiz.
[Updated, 12:15 p.m. April 13: On Thursday, Muto received a letter similar to Gawker's letter from the firm of Epstein Becker & Green, representing Fox News, and obtained by Yahoo News, which instructed him to "immediately stop providing information and videos to Gawker that you unlawfully obtained while employed at Fox News, and return them to Fox News. You should immediately stop writing columns based on information that you unlawfully obtained while employed at Fox News."
They also asked Muto to preserve all documentation related to his employment by Gawker, which began while he was still an employee of Fox News.
In a statement, a Fox News representative said, "It's now in the hands of our lawyers and law enforcement since a crime has been committed."]
-- Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor." Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times