Bill O’Reilly makes being a bully look glamorous. No matter how many women bring lawsuits against him for sexual harassment, lewd behavior, unwanted advances or abusive language, Fox News puts up with his conduct. Sure, the public relations people at Fox News generate the correct human resources babble, insisting that they won’t tolerate behavior that “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment”—according to an article in the New York Times—but frankly, that’s BS. As long as O’Reilly stays atop his throne as the network’s number one news anchor, nothing changes.
O’Reilly is no different than disgraced former network chairman Roger Ailes when it come to this sort of behavior. According to the New York Times, a total of five women have received settlements in exchange for their silence about O’Reilly for a whopping sum of $13 million. And two of these cases arose after the departure of Ailes. This is quite a lot of cash for accusations that O’Reilly repeatedly insists are without merit.
Fox News’ parent company tried to back him up by alleging in a written statement to the New York Times that “no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.” How can anyone be expected to report wrongdoing when the former boss was the chief predator?
The victims of O’Reilly tell a different story. Former guest commentator and adjunct professor of psychology Wendy Walsh is calling for an independent investigation into the culture at Fox News. Walsh was promised O’Reilly’s help in becoming a paid contributor but when she rebuffed his advances he turned angry and dropped her from his show. The allegations seem to have had little effect. Walsh’s attorney told Variety that Fox News’ renewal of O’Reilly’s contract made it clear that “apparently Fox News does not think that anti-discrimination laws apply to them.”
So O’Reilly will go on broadcasting his particular brand of bigoted ideology, which frighteningly does a lot to normalize the abnormal. The irony is that he is supposed to be some sort of newsman. How can he possibly criticize the wrongdoing of others when he clearly won’t take responsibility for his own actions?
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