The good news is this: Depending on which outlet you believe, between 40 and 50 advertisers have abandoned Bill O’Reilly’s The O’Reilly Factor. Thus far, however, O’Reilly himself has not addressed on his show the reason why all of these advertisers keep leaving, namely the litany of sexual harassment lawsuits that the Fox personality has settled.
However, Bill O’Reilly is still on the air. In fact, his audience is up 20 percent this week, probably in some part because viewers are tuning in to see if O’Reilly will address the controversy. Fox News has given no indication that they plan to fire O’Reilly.
At the risk of sounding greedy, advertisers should do more here. As the advertisers continue to abandon the show, they release statements with words and phrases like “disturbing” and “we value diversity,” and “we are troubled” by the allegations, but one other phrase I see in many of those statements is: “We will reallocate our advertising spend to other Fox News programs.”
Now wait a second, Hyundai, BMW, Allstate, Eli Lilly, etc! The message you are sending is this: “We are not OK with running our advertisements on a show hosted by a serial sexual harasser, but we are OK running them on a network that has not only enabled serial sexual harassers, but paid for their settlements.”
I mean, lookit: Bill O’Reilly is not the only harasser at the network. Roger Ailes had to step down last year, and Fox News had to pay millions in settlements. This year, Fox News had to pay Tamara Holder $2.5 million after Fox News Latino executive Francisco Cortes forced himself on her. There’s currently a racial harassment suit pending against Fox News. The difference is, the woman responsible for the racial harassment, Roger Ailes, and Francisco Cortes have all been fired.
Bill O’Reilly has not. And these advertisers, meanwhile, continue to support a network that employs a serial sexual harasser, even if they don’t support the specific program. Maybe the exodus of advertisers from Bill O’Reilly is hurting the Fox News’ bottom line, but maybe all that money is just being reapportioned to Tucker Carlson’s show, or Sean Hannity’s show, and maybe Bill O’Reilly is using his empty ad slots to advertise those shows. Maybe all the money is just being shifted around. Meanwhile, in terms of ratings, O’Reilly is benefiting from sexually harassing women, and those benefits continues to accrue to Fox News, the network that turns the other cheek to its employee’s sexual harassment.
Look: If TK were flogging the writing staff (more than usual, I mean), our advertisers (ha!) wouldn’t protest just TK’s posts, they’d swear off the entire site because we were employing a serial flogger. It’s not enough for Constant Contacts or Credit Karma to stop advertising on The O’Reilly Factor. They need to stop advertising on Fox News, period, full stop, at least until such time that Fox News ceases to pay a sexual harasser $18 million a year to promote the political opinions of a very disturbed and troubled man.