O’Reilly: A defining moment for Fox News
Fox News has a Bill O’Reilly dilemma, said Brian Rosenwald in USNews.com. After The New York Times revealed the network and its marquee host had paid $13 million to five women who’d made sexual harassment claims against him, “a torrent of blue-chip advertisers” fled The O’Reilly Factor— some 50 so far. “It’s a defining moment” for Fox, said Sharon Waxman in TheWrap.com. Axing O’Reilly “means slicing the heart out of the Fox News body politic.” A pugnacious right-winger with “the paternal air of authority, O’Reilly is the brand,” generating a whopping $446 million in revenue since 2014 alone. Yet keeping him—especially when the network vowed a culture change after CEO Roger Ailes’ ouster last year—would prove that “Fox will tolerate sexual harassment within its highest ranks.”
Did O’Reilly really harass these women? asked George Neumayr in WashingtonExaminer.com. “Who knows?” He denies the allegations, and the cases “have all been confidentially settled.” Perhaps, as he contends, he was “the target of opportunists” who were looking for a big check. Meanwhile, The O’Reilly Factor— already the toprated show on cable news—has enjoyed a 14 percent ratings bump. That’s because his fiercely loyal core audience sees this as just another liberal hit job. Many conservative women roll their eyes when feminist ideologues scream sexism and harassment— often based on nebulous evidence. “The feminist left has cried wolf too many times,” which is one reason the Access Hollywood tape didn’t sink Donald Trump.
Not surprisingly, the president said he doesn’t “think Bill has done anything wrong,” said Andrew Wallenstein in Variety.com. And by surviving his own serial harassment scandal, Trump has made it possible for his buddy to keep his job. It didn’t seem possible that a presidential candidate could get away with admitting on a videotape to grabbing, kissing, and assaulting unwilling women. “But that’s just what Trump did.” So if a president can do it, why not a talkshow host? What an awful message, said Susan Chira in The New York Times. Women already know that “powerful men” aren’t held accountable for sexual harassment, which is why so few report it. A 2015 Cosmopolitan survey found that 71 percent of women who’d been harassed at work made no complaint, fearing retribution. In a world still run by men, “sexual harassment remains part of the American workplace.” ■