Tawdry tales mean O’Reilly’s bill has come due
If similar charges were levelled against a rapper or atheist, TV host would scream for blood
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 mind-blowing 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 law- suit 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 chairperson Roger Ailes last summer over, yes, charges he sexually harassed a number of female employees — can Fox afford to keep its biggest moneymaker? 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 zero-tolerance 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 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, tree-hugger, 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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Some think Bill O’Reilly’s vacation should not end, Vinay Menon writes.