Vi­nay Menon

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - BUSINESS - Vicky Mochama Metro

Bill O’Reilly is tak­ing a va­ca­tion that should be per­ma­nent.

“This time of year, I grab some va­ca­tion be­cause it’s spring and Easter time,” O’Reilly told view­ers on Tues­day night, sport­ing the fake smile of a creep un­der siege who se­cretly fears the jig is up. “Last fall, I booked a trip that should be ter­rific.”

He did not re­veal his itin­er­ary, pos­si­bly to avoid tip­ping off women he may de­cide to sex­u­ally ha­rass on his trav­els: “Yes, front desk? I need some loofah and your hottest clean­ing lady sent to my room, pronto. Is there a masseuse on staff, prefer­ably of Ba­li­nese de­scent? I’d like to show her some­thing. Do you know if there are any Scandinavian flight at­ten­dants stay­ing here? Oh. I see. Well, what are you wear­ing right now? Care to visit my pro-spin zone?”

Is this grossly un­fair? No. Ac­tu­ally, it’s not. If the above ref­er­ences are un­clear, read the 23-page state­ment of claim in a sex­ual ha­rass­ment law­suit that a for­mer pro­ducer from The O’Reilly Fac­tor filed in 2004. It’s a mind­blow­ing doc­u­ment that ended up on The Smok­ing Gun; just don’t read it if you’re eat­ing a falafel, or ever again plan to eat a falafel.

At the time, Fox News treated the law­suit as a re­gret­table aber­ra­tion, pos­si­bly even one big mis­un­der­stand­ing. It was a one-off, ex­ecs whis­pered to re­porters off the record — a one-off that war­ranted no of­fi­cial rep­ri­mand.

O’Reilly, then as now, was the net­work’s big­gest star. And even if he’s widely per­ceived as a huff­ing and puff­ing gas­bag who prof­its from ran­dom skir­mishes in the cul­ture wars he starts with his ar­se­nal of in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­hon­est grenades, he was and is rat­ings gold. Fox News with­out Bill O’Reilly, went the think­ing in­side Fox News, would be like McDon­ald’s with­out the Big Mac.

Yes, un­less the Big Mac was sud­denly linked to a mas­sive out­break of E. coli.

Af­ter a num­ber of scan­dals at the net­work re­cently — in­clud­ing the dis­missal of for­mer chair­man Roger Ailes last sum­mer over, yes, charges he sex­u­ally ha­rassed a num­ber of fe­male em­ploy­ees — can Fox af­ford to keep its big­gest money-maker? That’s the real ques­tion. As O’Reilly says, “The truth hurts.” And the truth is that af­ter scold­ing the world for more than two decades, af­ter har­ness­ing pop­ulist rage and mak­ing a killing as an al­leged cham­pion of de­cency and fam­ily val­ues, O’Reilly’s al­leged in­de­cency is now the story.

Un­like the law­suit in 2004, the story this time won’t fade into the ether. As this month’s ex­o­dus of ad­ver­tis­ers from The O’Reilly Fac­tor sug­gests, com­pa­nies are now far more likely to take a ze­ro­tol­er­ance stand against sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Spon­sors don’t want to be as­so­ci­ated with preda­tory al­le­ga­tions.

The top-line dam­age to rep­u­ta­tion over­shad­ows the bot­tom line.

O’Reilly’s down­ward spi­ral started ear­lier this month with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the New York Times. The news­pa­per dis­cov­ered a to­tal of $13 mil­lion has been paid to five women over the years “in ex­change for agree­ing Fox News host Bill O’Reilly should make his up­com­ing va­ca­tion per­ma­nent, writes Vi­nay Menon. to not pur­sue lit­i­ga­tion or speak about their ac­cu­sa­tions against (O’Reilly).”

Why the eight dig­its of hush money? It seems the com­plaints against the talk­ing head cover a “wide range of be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing ver­bal abuse, lewd com­ments, un­wanted ad­vances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was mas­tur­bat­ing.”

And you thought tele­mar­keters were treach­er­ous.

Ac­cord­ing to the story, there was a “pat­tern” here: “Mr. O’Reilly would cre­ate a bond with some women by of­fer­ing ad­vice and promis­ing to help them pro­fes­sion­ally. He then would pur­sue sex­ual re­la­tion­ships with them, caus­ing some to fear that if they re­buffed him, their ca­reers would stall.”

That pat­tern, in­ci­den­tally, was crys­tal clear in the 2004 law­suit, which ac­cord­ing to the Times, was set­tled out of court for roughly $9 mil­lion. But noth­ing was done.

So now O’Reilly is “on va­ca­tion.” If he’s trav­el­ling on United Air­lines and the flight is over­booked, maybe he’ll be dragged off the plane, bat­tered and bruised. If that hap­pened, he’d at least get a taste of how it feels to be abused by those in author­ity, to have his per­sonal safety com­pro­mised and his rights vi­o­lated just be­cause some­one thought they could get away with a rep­re­hen­si­ble act.

He might even get new in­sights into what he’s ac­cused of do­ing.

O’Reilly told view­ers he’d be back in two weeks. But as New York mag­a­zine re­ported on Tues­day night, there is an in­ter­nal de­bate at Fox about his fu­ture.

There are those who be­lieve he should never re­turn from va­ca­tion.

Iron­i­cally, that’s ex­actly what O’Reilly would favour if sim­i­lar charges were lev­elled against a rap­per, Hol­ly­wood lib­eral, fem­i­nist, left­ist, athe­ist, tree­hug­ger, moon­bat or any of the other en­emy groups he’s railed against as the stern grand­daddy of con­ser­va­tive cen­sure. He’d be scream­ing for blood right now.

This might be some­thing he thinks about if his va­ca­tion never ends.

is a Toronto Star en­ter­tain­ment colum­nist. School can be pretty racist.

At one dance at my high school, a cou­ple stu­dents showed up drunk. The school nat­u­rally in­volved the par­ents. In the end, the white kids who’d bro­ken the rules were given light pun­ish­ments, but the black boy was given a full week’s sus­pen­sion.

This was stan­dard at my school. The white kids were given the ben­e­fit of the doubt while the full weight of the in­sti­tu­tion was brought to bear on the black stu­dents. At times, it was puni­tive. But at oth­ers, it looked like the bigotry of low ex­pec­ta­tions, such as guid­ance coun­sel­lors who steered black stu­dents away from univer­sity-ori­ented cour­ses and to­ward col­lege or tech­ni­cal ones.

There is an­other way school can be pretty racist. I lucked out on hav­ing par­ents who used to be teach­ers. But in 12 years of ed­u­ca­tion across six schools, I only ever had one black teacher.

A re­cent work­ing pa­per from the IZA – the In­sti­tute of La­bor Economics found that hav­ing just one black teacher dur­ing el­e­men­tary school de­creases the prob­a­bil­ity of low­in­come black boys drop­ping out by nearly 40 per cent. More­over, black stu­dents who’d had one black teacher were more likely to say they ex­pected to go to col­lege.

While the re­search is Amer­i­can, the con­clu­sion is use­ful for schools here: Di­ver­sity within the teach­ing ranks isn’t just a sta­tis­ti­cal mea­sure about “rep­re­sen­ta­tion.” It is ac­tu­ally es­sen­tial for stu­dents to see role mod­els in or­der to imag­ine their own suc­cess.

Eq­uity builds on di­ver­sity by let­ting stu­dents of all races see teach­ers of colour in a range of po­si­tions within ed­u­ca­tion.

An­other Amer­i­can study showed that stu­dents of all races are more likely to have pos­i­tive per­cep­tions of teach­ers of colour, and that this per­cep­tion was linked to per­for­mance in stan­dard­ized tests.

Canada’s de­mo­graphic changes are go­ing to be felt in our schools. Around cities es­pe­cially, the com­mit­ment of school boards to eq­uity is go­ing to af­fect how well non­white stu­dents do.

For a long time now, par­ents in York Re­gion District School Board, just north of Toronto, have com­plained that their kids were fac­ing a sys­tem of racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion. A re­port this week vin­di­cates the par­ents. The trustee who re­ferred to a par­ent with a racial slur isn’t an anom­aly but, rather, proof of a sys­temic prob­lem and a lack of skilled lead­er­ship.

The re­port notes that un­der the cur­rent direc­tor of ed­u­ca­tion, the board had made eq­uity “a foun­da­tional prac­tice.” Par­ents, how­ever, were un­clear what that meant. Fur­ther­more, pre­sen­ta­tions on eq­uity showed no spe­cific plans or tar­gets.

Eq­uity – and its part­ners, di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion – have be­come vague terms. But in school, es­pe­cially, it is es­sen­tial that they are clearly un­der­stood and made a pri­or­ity.


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