We must not bypass the fact that Fox News tolerated sexual harassment as long as they continued to make money. And will do it again.
While many are celebrating Fox telling “Bill Bye,” after they had just had it with his sexual misconduct ― wait pardon me ― they had just had it with the fact that brands had had it with O’Reilly and pulled their advertising, impacting Fox’s bottom line... It is, however, important to note that while this racist misogynist was a problem and we’re glad to see him go, he was just one branch sprung from a tree that is rotten to the core. O’Reilly was just a bad symptom; Fox news is the f*****g disease.
Think about it, Bill O’Reilly was able to remain employed at this sad excuse for a news outlet through decades of racism, sexism and countless known sexual assault accusations for three main reasons. 1) The average age of Fox viewers make dinosaurs look like millennials, and they frankly struggle to hear O’Reilly, never mind taking offense at the words he is saying, which is why his ratings remained high even amidst the backlash; 2) The advertisers, until recently, never lagged so the network, while knowing of the countless sexual assault accusations, could continue to justify keeping Bill on the air through the only justification necessary when it comes to multi billion dollar companies, the bottom line; and 3) Most notably, because Fox has created, and therefore embraced a hate-filled environment that welcomes all forms of prejudice. Unabashed prejudiced hate-spewing that, in addition to being a staple of O’Reilly’s show, is mirrored by several other privileged hosts throughout the network.
In fact people have become so numb to the outlandish fact free assaults, that it took Bill O’Reilly insulting Maxine Waters to bring to light the equally horrendous and racist comments made by Eric Bolling FIVE YEARS earlier. A man that, thanks to O’Reilly’s dismissal, is set to head up a new primetime show, which just goes to show that racism will not only be tolerated at Fox News, it will even get you promoted. Because racism is everyday practice at Fox, as is sexism.
We all remember Roger Ailes ― the man 20 women accused of sexual harassment, which led him into early retirement. Well, under his guidance women at Fox News were instructed “to wear your skirts short and your heels high,” allegedly so that Ailes could stare at their legs. But even with Ailes and O’Reilly gone, another Bill remains who is equally dangerous: Fox News’ current co-president, Bill Shine.
Bill Shine is the name that appears on almost every sexual harassment case, not for committing the offenses himself, but for repeatedly coming to the defense of those accused and “making the situation go away.” He helps maintain a breeding ground where this kind of predatory behavior can thrive. So is it any surprise that this misogyny and disrespect is echoed by mostly all of the network’s male hosts? A network that had an all-male panel debate whether it was okay for women to be a family’s primary breadwinner. A network that has stated women are paid less than men for the same work because they’re worth less. A network that defends sexual predators at every cost until it starts to alter the cheques and balances or is publicly exposed beyond any doubt.
So yeah, we can celebrate the downfall of O’Reilly ― I’m not going to say I didn’t indulge in a little chuckle, or an Instagram post. But it won’t eradicate the hatred or make women at Fox any safer. Powerful men will continue to feel empowered to sexually harass their employees since they’re doing nothing more than practicing behind the scenes the attitude toward women that Fox News has been espousing on the air for years. When one serial harasser is exposed, another will emerge. I mean, the guy moving into O’Reilly’s time slot is Tucker Carlson, another blatant sexist who has made countless distasteful jokes on air. So he will fill the time-slot nicely and help Fox News continue to profit off of misogyny.
But while you can take some comfort from knowing that some of the deplorables at Fox News have been exposed and held accountable, do not mistake the symptom for the disease. Fox News is still, and always will be,a welcoming environment for racists and sexual predators. The real takeaway from Bill O’Reilly’s downfall should be that at Fox News they’ll tolerate powerful men who like to grab women by the pussy, but they draw the line when you start to grab Fox News by the wallet.