Money Talks: Exodus of Advertisers Forces Out Bill O'Reilly at Fox
'Fox News and the Murdochs only listen when they hear the sound of money rushing out the door'
Right-wing misogynist Bill O'Reilly "will not be returning to the Fox News Channel," his parent company said Wednesday afternoon, following years of offensive commentary and what one media watchdog called "inaccurate and embellished reporting."
His ouster comes weeks after a New York Times investigation exposed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had backed and protected O'Reilly even as sexual harassment allegations piled up against him and settlement payouts to his accusers reached a whopping $13 million.
That investigation amplified a long-standing campaign against O'Reilly's "reign of hate and abuse," as racial justice group Color of Change—which led the effort—described it on Wednesday. Following the Times revelations, Color of Change began directly pressuring corporate advertisers, urging them to pull their spots from "The O'Reilly Factor." At least 50 advertisers did so, according to the Times.
"Thanks to that pressure, Bill O'Reilly will no longer be a menace on-air or in the halls of Fox News' headquarters," said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change, which also led a successful campaign to get Glenn Beck off the air in 2011.
However, Robinson added a crucial caveat: "Fox News and the Murdochs only listen when they hear the sound of money rushing out the door. If dozens of advertisers had not dropped 'The Factor,' Bill O’Reilly would still be endangering 21st Century Fox employees."
Others made similar observations online:
Fox paid $13 million to make women go away & only canned Bill O'Reilly when advertisers fled. No woman should applaud @FoxNews today.— Andrea Stone (@andreastonez) April 19, 2017
If the public had not pressured advertisers to stay away, O'Reilly would've be back on the air on Monday. Activism works, even with Fox News— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) April 19, 2017
"O'Reilly deserves this downfall," said NOW president Terry O'Neill. "The many sexual harassment allegations leveled against him reveal a clear and ugly pattern of misogynistic behavior. It would be an insult to women everywhere to allow him to retain his coveted prime-time television slot."
But, she continued, "this isn't over. Fox News condoned, and even supported, O'Reilly's heinous misconduct for years—along with former chairman Roger Ailes and, reportedly, other Fox News executives. The public has the right to know the facts about the toxic culture of harassment that appears to be endemic at the network."
"NOW is calling for a thorough, independent investigation by New York City and state authorities into the culture of sexual and racial harassment at Fox News, and for appropriate accountability measures to be taken," O'Neill said. "How else can we be reassured that women will never again be subjected to this inhumane treatment while their harassers continue to pocket eight-figure salaries?"
"If Fox News wants to show women even an ounce of respect," she concluded, "a lot more needs to happen beyond firing Bill O'Reilly."
As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, President Donald Trump (who has also been accused of sexual assault and harassment) came to O'Reilly's defense following the Times exposé. "I think he's a person I know well—he is a good person," Trump told the newspaper the time. "I don't think Bill did anything wrong."