By Brian Klose
Former Opinion Editor
Since joining Fox News in 1996, talk show host and political commentator Bill O’Reilly has earned a reputation as an aggressive, to-the-point talking head on top of the cable news world. O’Reilly’s show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” in particular, was consistently the highest-rated show across the three major cable news networks (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News). Throughout his broadcasting career, O’Reilly was no stranger to controversy, often basing his views on racist ideology, misreporting major stories, and carrying on reckless behavior in the workplace.
His erratic behavior recently lost him his broadcasting job. After a series of sexual harassment settlements came to light, O’Reilly was removed from Fox News with a $25 million severance package. The decision to fire O’Reilly rather than punish him for his disgusting behavior across his career arguably came as a result of lost advertising and other business related factors, completely trivializing the years of controversy.
The New York Times investigated and reported on a large number of settlements with former female Fox News employees, all regarding sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly. As a result of the report, Fox News quickly sent O’Reilly on a two-week vacation before ultimately removing him from the network.
Since being fired, O’Reilly has started his own podcast, “No Spin News,” continuing his broadcast career as if his misconduct had no effect on his career status as a host. O’Reilly himself is staying relatively quiet about the situation, but still sticking to his rhetoric of finding the “truth.”
“I was very surprised how it all turned out,” he said on his podcast. “I can’t say a lot because there’s much stuff going on right now. But I can tell you that I’m very confident the truth will come out. And when it does — I don’t know if you’re going to be surprised, but I think you’re going to be shaken, as I am.”
O’Reilly appears to show no remorse for his behavior, carrying on as if nothing wrong has happened. His podcast is just another step in his talking head career, likely continuing his harmful rhetoric.
The sudden firing of O’Reilly only indicates a larger problem for Fox News, a network consistently mishandling sexual harassment allegations. Last year, the network’s founder and CEO Roger Ailes resigned from the company after allegations of sexual assault. Ailes went on to advise President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.
While some women’s rights activists are commending Fox News for taking action against sexual harassment, some at the network believe little will change.
Emily Steel of The New York Times, whose report led to O’Reilly’s firing, wrote, “Mr. O’Reilly’s departure is the latest development in a tumultuous nine months at Fox News. In the aftermath of Mr. Ailes’s dismissal in July, the Murdochs pledged to clean up the network’s culture. But since then, it has been hit with new sexual harassment allegations, and female staff members said they remained fearful of reporting inappropriate behavior… after the ouster, some employees said they were skeptical about whether the treatment of women at Fox News would actually change.”
In the end, it seems that O’Reilly’s behavior will have little to no repercussions on his career and reputation. As for Fox News, the on-going trend of sexual harassment and misconduct within the network points to a bleak future for the self-proclaimed leader of cable news.