Given the fact that Bill O’Reilly has managed to survive numerous sexual harassment scandals in the past (including a very public one in 2004 involving loofahs that was a source of a lot of late-night TV jokes), I honestly didn’t expect that much would come of the NYTimes story over the weekend detailing O’Reilly’s history of harassment, especially because we already knew about some of those incidents and the settlements.
Given the political climate, in fact, I assumed the story would be a blip: It’s just Bill O’Reilly being Bill O’Reilly. Liberal twitter would express outrage for a few hours and everything would return to normal by Sunday.
But corporate America still has the ability to surprise occasionally. A lot of CEO’s probably don’t give a sh*t about the culture of harassment at Fox News, but their customers do. It’s why no one will intentionally advertise on Brietbart anymore. It’s why Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s line of clothes. And now it’s why advertisers are starting to drop Bill O’Reilly.
It started with two: Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai pulled their ads yesterday, citing “the recent and disturbing allegations” and “the importance of women in every aspect of our business.” Three more have been added to the No O’Reilly list today: BMW of North America, Untuckit and Constant Contact.
That’s not nothing, and things like this tend to steamroll when advocacy group smell blood in water. These five companies stopped advertising before anyone could even marshall a huge campaign against Bill O’Reilly. However, if Americans continue to speak out with their wallets, capitalism may actually be able to force Fox News into doing the right thing. After all, it worked against Rush Limbaugh in 2012, when radio stations across the country began dropping Limbaugh because companies refused to advertise on his program after the Sandra Fluke controversy.
Meanwhile, three black women have also filed suit against Fox News for racial harassment, which should keep pressure on Fox News.
Ultimately, I don’t think we can do anything in this political climate to prevent millions of people from tuning into Fox News each night, but if there’s no advertising and therefore no revenue, 100 million viewers — let alone the 4 million he gets most nights — can save Bill O’Reilly’s job.