Though “The O’Reilly Factor,” lasted for 20 seasons with more than ten years on air, it took but a matter of weeks for an expose’ by The New York Times to be the missile that sunk the number one program in cable news. The Times found that Bill O’Reilly and Fox had paid out a total of $13 million to five women in exchange for them to not seek legal action or speak out about their accusations.
Fox is certainly no stranger to losing employees to sexual harassment, just last year Roger Ailes, the founder and former CEO of Fox News, was outed from his position due to allegations of sexual harassment. But it’s important to note that sexual harassment was not what got O’Reilly; surely it was the catalyst, but money is what pulled O’Reilly’s card in the end.
Shortly after the NYT piece, advertisers began pulling their ads from The O’Reilly Factor. Everyone ranging from car companies, to pharmaceutical companies, to pet food suppliers pulled their advertisements from O’Reilly’s show. According to the Kantar Media firm, in a two year span the O’Reilly Factor had generated $446 million from ads, not an amount to scoff at.
As more and more advertisers pulled out of The O’Reilly Factor, over 50 in total, the story gained more and more buzz in the media and the women at Fox raised questions over whether the company was going to keep its promise to maintain a culture of “trust and respect,” as they had said after Ailes was fired. In the end, Fox decided it would be best for O’Reilly not to return.
So now it seems O’Reilly goes the way of Glenn Beck, releasing a podcast on his website on a subscription basis, promising to bring “no spin news.” But the real questions remain with Fox. Why did they cover for O’Reilly for so long? Why did it take the threat of loss of profit to end O’Reilly’s tenure rather than the multiple allegations of sexual assault put forth by various women? It seems that Fox did not learn their lesson from Ailes, and maybe Fox’s slogan should be changed from “fair and balanced” to “money over morals.”
By Blake Hunter