Fox’s Growing O’Reilly Problem
Bill O’Reilly has a woman problem.
Thirteen million dollars. That is how much money Bill O’Reilly and Fox News have paid out over the years to make accusations of sexual misconduct disappear. The strategy has worked well. Indeed O’Reilly seemed immune to the pitfalls most men face in similar situations. Now however that seems to be changing. Ten companies have pulled advertisements from O’Reilly’s prime-time cable program. This is following reports on the amount of money paid out to women who have accused him of sexual harassment.
First it was Hyundai, BMW of North America, Untuckit, Constant Contact, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, GSK pharmaceuticals, Allstate, and Sanofi consumer healthcare. Earlier today it was announced that Global asset management firm T. Rowe Price and Mercedes-Benz have joined them. There is no telling at this time what amount of lost revenue this will equal. Fox News however seems ready to stand by the top-rated news host once again.
Reports claim that O’Reilly has hired crisis communications expert Mark Fabiani. Fabiani once served as special counsel and legal spokesperson for President Clinton.
In a statement O’Reilly said, “Just like other prominent and controversial people I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department. Not even on the anonymous hotline. Most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and would do anything to avoid hurting. So I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.” The statement however falls on deaf ears for many especially considering the ending of his marriage and outcome of custody battle.
In May 2015, transcripts from the custody trial with ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy showed signs of domestic violence within the household. His daughter Madeline testified she witnessed O’Reilly choking her mother and dragging her down the stairs of their home by her neck. The girl stated she did not believe her father was aware that she was watching. O’Reilly stated through his attorney describing the account as “100% false” and declined to comment further.
A questionable future.
It is impossible to tell at this time if O’Reilly will suffer the same fate as his former boss, Roger Ailes. Ailes was forced to resign as CEO of the news organization he founded last year after allegations of sexual harassment were made against him. The backlash against O’Reilly is also in its early stages but is certainly mounting.
The National Organization for Women has demanded Fox News conduct an independent investigation and that O’Reilly be fired.
“Mr. O’Reilly’s case is part of a larger culture that condones the harassment and objectification of women at Fox News,” NOW president Terry O’Neill in a statement. “Men like Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Ailes will never be stopped as long as their behavior is allowed to continue, even supported, by their employer.”
Fox News has yet to issue a statement on the situation.