Opinion: How does Bill O’Reilly still have a job?


Nicholas Hunter

Nicholas Hunter

An investigation by The New York Times found that Bill O’Reilly, a TV personality and the host of the No. 1 show on cable news in 2016, “The O’Reilly Factor,” has been accused by seven different women of “sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.”

O’Reilly or the company he works for, 21st Century Fox, paid about $13 million to the five of those women who sued him or the company.

All the women who made accusations against him either worked for him or appeared as guests on his show.

Interestingly, the public knew of two of the settlements beforehand: one from last year and one from 2004.

To be clear, a settlement is not admission of guilt; it is, however, oftentimes a quieter and less cost-effective way to settle a legal dispute.

In response to these allegations, 21st Century Fox said, “We have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as personal responsibility.”

Another point made in 21st Century Fox’s statement is that none of the accusers utilized “the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Mr. O’Reilly, even anonymously.”

Amid this controversy, the Wall Street Journal reported that Fox News renewed O’Reilly’s contract.

The root of this issue stems from a broader issue in the culture surrounding the company.

Last year, Roger Ailes, the former chairman and CEO of Fox News, was released by the company after it was found that Ailes, who denied the accusations, and the company had settled sexual harassment cases with six different women during his tenure.

On his way out the door, he received a $40 million severance package.

The New York Times spoke to employees at Fox News, who said they “feared making complaints to network executives on the human resources department” while Ailes was CEO.

The connections O’Reilly has also put his accusers in a tough position; O’Reilly is known friends with President Donald Trump, who said on Wednesday, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

Trump has faced numerous sexual assault and sexual harassment accusations over the years as well.

Even so, over 40 companies have pulled their advertisements from The O’Reilly Factor, according to Fortune Magazine.

How does he still have a job?

Turns out that as this controversy has grown, views have gone up. According to the New York Times, “The O’Reilly Factor” has seen a 10 percent increase in viewership since the allegations were published.

When considering that our sitting president has an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to detailing sexual misconduct allegations, it becomes less surprising that O’Reilly would see an increase in ratings amid this controversy.

In their reporting on the O’Reilly accusations, USA Today spoke to experts on the matter of normalizing sexual harassment. I could quote them and let well-paid experts explain how apathetic the public at-large is to the sexual harassment women face every day.

Instead, I will let the ratings for “The O’Reilly Factor” speak for itself.

Nicholas Hunter is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].