Almost three weeks ago, The New York Times “found a total of five women who have received payouts from Bill O’Reilly or Fox News” in exchange for agreeing not to pursue litigation or speak about their accusations (of workplace and/or sexual harassment) against him. The payouts totaled about $13 million. Today The New York Times confirms that Bill O’Reilly is leaving Fox News. O’Reilly is currently on holiday. When he left he insisted it was a pre-planned vacation. When he left, ratings for his show were still strong, despite the fact that advertisers were bailing on The O’Reilly Factor.
Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, released this statement about Bill’s departure:
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”
When Roger Ailes was fired from Fox News last summer, also amid sexual harassment allegations, his payout was $40 million. Three months later? He bought a house – no, sorry, a MANSION – in Palm Beach for $37 million. So, clearly, Roger Ailes will be fine. Bill O’Reilly? I mean in these situations, there’s always a payout. I’m thinking he’ll probably get a payout. And he’s already a millionaire because his salary at Fox News was in the $15 million/year range.
So…I’m not sure we can call this a win. Remember, two of the five women received payouts from Fox News or Bill O’Reilly AFTER Roger Ailes’s departure. Which means that their “thorough and careful reviews of the allegations” is F-CKING BULLSH-T.
Because YOU ALREADY REVIEWED THE ALLEGATIONS! That’s why there were payouts! You reviewed them and you didn’t care! You only started caring when the sponsors quit you. Which means this is not a decision based on honouring human rights in the workplace, this is a decision based on MONEY. Straight up cash money. Which means that sexual harassment is only wrong when and if it costs money. And it has to be LOT of money. Because not even $13 million - $13 MILLION! – in payouts was enough to get Bill O’Reilly fired. It had to be over 50 advertisers. It had to be $13 million TIMES AT LEAST 10, that’s how much it had to cost to fire a man who abused his power in the workplace and sexually harassed his female colleagues. I’m having a hard time celebrating that.
But I will celebrate investigative journalism. It was The New York Times’ story, by reporters Emily Steel and Michael S Schmidt, that really accelerated this situation. Credit to them and credit to the profession.