Bill O’Reilly’s firing doesn’t set a good example

John McClatchy

While 21st Century Fox did the right thing in firing O’Reilly, what came next shows there are two types of justice.

This won’t be a column delighting in seeing the conservative pundit leave Fox News. I’ll leave that to the late night comedians.

O’Reilly, who had the highest ratings of all primetime news shows (although I balk at calling O’Reilly news), was fired for repeatedly sexually harassing female employees at Fox. It was also found that 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, paid millions of dollars to accusers to keep them quiet.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

I’m glad to see that Bill got what was coming: sexual harassment is disgusting, and frankly pathetic for someone of his power to be doing. What I wasn’t glad to see was what happened in the aftermath.

A few days after Fox announced his termination, it was found that O’Reilly’s severance package would amount to over 25 million dollars. This is the equivalent to a year’s worth of what would have been his salary had he stayed at Fox. Not only that, he returned to the air on April 24 with a podcast on his personal website.

What this puts forth is an interesting premise: if you’re as successful as Bill O’Reilly, multiple accusations of sexual harassment will earn you 25 million dollars and you still have a podcast show. For others who are actually punished, because so much harassment goes unsaid, it means a rightfully ruined life and little means of gainful employment.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Something as life-ruining as sexual harassment means only a small road bump, 25 million dollars, and a quick return to what you’re doing– albeit to perhaps a smaller, more devoted audience.[/perfectpullquote]

Again, this is another example for the successful in society playing by a different set of rules. Something as life-ruining as sexual harassment means only a small road bump, 25 million dollars, and a quick return to what you’re doing– albeit to perhaps a smaller, more devoted audience.

But he lost his top rated cable show, some may say. He did lose that, yes, but he also got quite the golden parachute. That parachute came from the news network regularly fighting for conservatism, family values, and the American way.

So are family values only a platitude at Fox, or does family values means regularly demeaning women and calling those of color “hot chocolate” as he did to one woman while ogling at her breasts in 2008? I don’t know which is worse, and I don’t know if I want to know the answer to that question. It’s either blatant hypocrisy, or it’s just disgusting.

And let’s not forget that O’Reilly was not fired because of any moralist streak by Fox, either. It was solely because he lost over 50 advertisers after the New York Times published their investigation about O’Reilly’s behavior. For a company so motivated by family values, it seems their family only includes Washington, Jackson, and Franklin and not the women who felt awful because the only thing he saw was an object and not an aspiring journalist or hard worker.

It’s not like this the first time Fox has been hit with sexual harassment allegations. This past summer former Fox CEO Roger Ailes was fired because of sexual harassment. His severance package was 40 million dollars, that when combined with the hush money and severance package to O’Reilly adds up to over 85 million dollars paid by Fox because of sexual harassment claims.

Here at Malvern, there is an attempt to teach us how to treat others respectably, and we learn of the very grave consequences of making anyone– male, female, or anyone else– uncomfortable because of things we say, jokes we crack, or untimely and unwelcome flirtations.

What happened at Fox just disarmed everything we’ve been taught about sexual harassment.

What this has done has put the idea in some people’s heads that sexual harassment may not be as big a deal as it is, because these rich successful people made off like bandits after degrading and objectifying fully deserving women in the workplace.

I can only hope that my Malvern brothers will be better men than these pigs.