I saw an online article that called Bill O’Reilly the “Bill Cosby of Fox News.” That’s not entirely fair: O’Reilly is likely just a serial sexual harasser, whereas Cosby is a rapist. Then again, they are both named “Bill,” and there are other similarities. Both have paid hush money to accusers, both have had a series of accusations made against them by women, the watermark of the sexual harasser (though Bill Cosby, so far, is way ahead in that category), both angrily deny the charges against them, and both have indignant defenders.
Both also are probably sociopaths.
Is it possible that Cosby has been wrongly maligned? Let me think…NO. Of course not. Over 50 women (what is the current count now?) do not accuse the same innocent man of sexual assault. Is it possible that the other Bill is a victim, not a predator? My “no” here isn’t quite as emphatic, perhaps, but…no. The New York Times piece yesterday thoroughly covers the evidence, and the odds against all this being meaningless boggles the mind:
1. The Times investigation found a total of five women who have received payouts from either O’Reilly or Fox News in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him.
2. The agreements add up to about $13 million.
3. The accounts have several common elements.
4. There is overwhelming evidence that Fox paid a settlement for a non-sexual harassment episode in 2002, when O’Reilly, who can be a big, scary guy, viciously berated a producer in front of other employees. This is a firing offense in any organization that respects professionalism and its employees over dollars, except when “The King’s Pass” intervenes, the pervasive organizational rationalization that causes organizations to excuse unethical conduct by their “stars.” Cosby was also a beneficiary of that rationalization, also called “The Star Syndrome.”
O’Reilly, says the Times, has earned over 400 million dollars for Fox News.
5. O’Reilly ended up paying 9 million dollars to one alleged victim after Fox News orchestrated a smear campaign against her in the news media, complete with having a private investigator dig up dirt on her. After the settlement , O’Reilly and the woman issued a public statement that “no wrongdoing whatsoever” had occurred. What? How could that possibly be true? Either O’Reilly really harassed her, or the woman was lying. Wrongdoing had to have occurred! Conclusion: O’Reilly lies. (But we knew that.)
6. He was re-signed to big contracts at Fox, despite the recurring accusations, during the reign of serial harasser (serial alleged harasser , <snort>) Roger Ailes, who obviously did not regard “pussy-grabbing” as anything to get upset about or he would have stopped doing it himself.
7. Everything about O’Reilly screams alpha male, narcissist, sexist, bullying jerk.
8. Fox News, under Ailes, developed a sick, sexist, misogynist culture, with the assembly line blonde cheerleader talking heads just a small but revealing symptom of the rot beneath. Having a powerful figure like O’Reilly feeding that culture is also destructive, further sending the message that at Fox News, sexism is the norm, and women are expected to smile when a star tries to cop a feel.
This is really depressing. The journalism establishment desperately needs a news source that covers the stories the mainstream news media embargos, distorts or delays. Fox News is all there is, and its management undermines its credibility and lives down to the hoariest conservative stereotypes by cultivating a gender-biased culture right out of “Mad Men.”
You know, five years ago, I was a guest on “The Factor.” Bill was very friendly, and unlike some interviewers, was informative and fair to me. It was a bit of a boost for ProEthics, LTD professionally, and Bill was complimentary, saying he might do more ethics segments. Still, I wouldn’t go back if invited. I couldn’t; it would be a breach of integrity. Sexual harassment and gender bias is a continuing, damaging, inexcusable problem, and Fox News, along with O’Reilly, are the most visible purveyors of it in the culture.
It is intolerable, and nobody should tolerate it, including me.