Hold the applause, please. The dismissal this week of the host of The O’Reilly Factor from Fox News is no reason to cheer. Before activists claim victory, consider this—21st Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch has known for years that Bill O’Reilly was a serial predator, as was former CEO Roger Ailes. After Ailes was forced to leave, promises to fix the culture at Fox was followed by a renewal of O’Reilly’s contract. So when articles such as this one in the New York Times express surprise that O’Reilly was shown the door so fast after the revelation that he had paid nearly $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims, all I can say is—give me a break! There were years of allegations and the “punishment” includes a $25 million severance.
The firing of O’Reilly has done little to nothing to reassure women that reporting harassment will be treated properly. Powerful men continue to cover up each other’s misbehavior. As former Fox News co-host Alisyn Camerota told the New York Times: “It was Roger Ailes’ fiefdom. He was the king. There was no higher authority that you could ever go to and there was harassment. And I tried, in my own way, to raise the flag and to talk to people about it. I went to my superiors to talk to them about it and there was certainly a feeling of ‘this is Roger, what are you going to do? Who are you going to go to?’ ”
Fox has shown repeatedly that it couldn’t care less about women in the workplace, or about the company’s toxic culture. All they care about is money—which is clearly the motivating factor behind the dismissal after some 50 advertisers withheld their commercials from The O’Reilly Factor. As I have indicated many times, Fox should not be in the business of reporting the news, especially where they are supposed to be exposing wrongdoing. They are entirely hypocritical, and therefore have no credibility.
Illustration credit: Steve Sack/The Minneapolis Star Tribune