O’Reilly overboard: The Fox News star gets his just deserts
April 21, 2017 12:00 AM
Richard Drew/Associated Press
Bill O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations.
By the Editorial Board
Bill O’Reilly is out of a job, though don’t worry about his ability to make ends meet. The Fox News star will receive $25 million — a year’s salary — from the Murdoch empire as he heads out the door, fired after the extent of sexual harassment claims against him became too much for sponsors to bear. Mr. O’Reilly has made plenty of enemies in mainstream media and liberal circles, but in this downfall, he has no one to blame but himself.
Over two decades at Fox, the pugnacious host truly did become “one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news,” as Rupert Murdoch and his two sons wrote in a memo to employees announcing his dismissal. “In fact, his success, by any measure, is indisputable.” The mega-profits that Mr. O’Reilly, 67, helped bring to the channel protected him from charges made public as far back as 2004. He must have thought, like many people in positions of power and influence, that the rules didn’t apply to him. But once it became known this month that Fox had paid $13 million in settlements with five female employees, the edifice began to crumble. It was already weak, following the ouster of CEO Roger Ailes for similar offenses.
Though undeniably conservative, Mr. O’Reilly did not align himself with politicians or a movement; he considered himself an independent, and surprised some people by opposing the death penalty or supporting some gun controls. He and Jon Stewart, a liberal icon of the highest degree, had a long-running public conversation, based on a grudging mutual respect. Mr. O’Reilly built a huge fan base with blunt talk cutting through the prevailing political correctness and an appeal to traditional values that he brought from his working-class Catholic upbringing on Long Island. His career may well continue in another media outlet. But he has let down the many people who believed in his straight-talk approach. “We part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” he said Wednesday, betraying his claim to work in a “No Spin Zone.”
From the Hollywood casting couch to the old habits of Bill Clinton, using one’s professional position to seek sexual favors might have been winked at in a previous era, but it is intolerable in today’s workplace. With Mr. O’Reilly’s comeuppance, it’s good to see that the rules do apply, even to a big shot.
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