How much is harassment (be it sexual or non-sexual) worth? According to Fox News and Bill O’Reilly, it’s somewhere in the vicinity of $13 million. On April 1, 2017 The New York Times published a startling story that, unfortunately, was not an April Fool’s Day joke. According to an investigation by the NYT, five different women, going back as early as 2002, have received closed-door settlements from “The O’Reilly Factor” and Fox News totaling around $13 million.
Only two of the settlements were known prior to this investigation, with the other three being uncovered in the last year. All of this comes after a disgraced Roger Ailes left the network last year following sexual harassment allegations.
Even in the midst of these allegations and settlements, Bill O’Reilly is not taking any sort of damage from these cases. According to the NYT article, O’Reilly thinks he “just like other prominent and controversial people,” is “vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.
According to both O’Reilly and Fox News, no one has reported any sort of misgivings or abuse at the hands of O’Reilly to Human Resources. His show, “The O’Reilly Factor” is one of the most watched shows on Fox News. According to Nielson ratings, “The O’Reilly Factor” pulls in over 3.9 million viewers a night. Ahead of the Super Bowl, O’Reilly got a coveted interview with President Donald Trump. And yet, none of this negative press is affecting Bill O’Reilly in any way, shape or form.
It’s 2017. Are we as a society going to accept what is happening as the new normal? America already has a huge issue with sexual harassment and abuse. From rape culture on college campuses to misogyny in Silicon Valley, America is facing an epidemic and Bill O’Reilly is only helping it spread.
I really want to say I expected better from such a prominent television personality like Bill O’Reilly, but I really can’t say that I did. O’Reilly is the same man who defended Ailes by attacking his own coworker, Megyn Kelly, after she said that she had faced unwanted sexual advances from the disgraced Ailes. O’Reilly is the same man who openly calls Black Lives Matter activists thugs on national television while ignoring the white men who target people of color because they are different. And for some reason, O’Reilly is loved by millions.
As the Neilson ratings show, millions of households tune in to watch Bill O’Reilly’s show every night. That is a solid and consistent fan base that must at some level believe everything he says is true. These viewers give O’Reilly a purpose in life and, unfortunately, also give him influence. By refusing to admit any wrongdoing, and refusing to take any kind of responsibility for his actions, both Fox News and O’Reilly are basically saying that they did nothing wrong. Settling outside of court allows the accused to avoid any real scrutiny from the public. Case and point, most of the world wouldn’t have heard anything about three of the five settlements if it wasn’t for the investigations by the NYT.
During the presidential election, then Republican-nominee Donald Trump and conservative talk show hosts like O’Reilly attacked Hillary Clinton because of sexual advances and harassment charges filed against President Bill Clinton. You can bet that none of these men will say anything negative about O’Reilly.
O’Reilly uses his influence as an old, white and powerful man to do whatever he wants and knows that he will get away with it. Bill O’Reilly is everything wrong with America and, if things don’t change soon, America will stay bad forever.