Fallen Fox News host Bill O’Reilly lost his show the “The O’Reilly Factor" after 20 years on the network. As most of you know, the host was pressured to leave after he was accused of sexual harassment and mistreating employees, which produced a firestorm of controversy. According to published reports, the total amount paid by Fox or O’Reilly was estimated to be at $13 million to keep the sexual harassment cases from going to court. The network finally cut ties after another woman made an allegation of sexual harassment. "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel," 21st Century Fox said in a statement. O’Reilly denied all allegations and fired back while on vacation in Italy: "I'm vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline."
Despite O’Reilly losing his on-camera gig, he returned to his audience with the BillOReilly.com podcast and explained that he was surprised how his demise at Fox played out. "I can tell you that I’m very confident the truth will come out, and when it does, I don’t know if you’re going to be surprised — but I think you’re going to be shaken, as I am. There’s a lot of stuff involved here," he said. Although it has been a public relations nightmare for Fox, the network was hit with racial discrimination complaints from on-air employees of Fox News as well after the O'Reilly's ouster, adding another layer to the controversy. What can we glean from O'Reilly's exit from Fox?
The show goes on.We don't know exactly what happened to the victims of these alleged offenses, but the network should have conducted an internal investigation and nipped any egregious behavior in the bud. Paying out people for their silence, makes you look guilty. However, since O’Reilly was their star, they protected him. The kicker here is Tucker Carlson moved into his time slot and delivered solid ratings. Business Insider obtained a memo from Rupert Murdoch, CEO and founder of News Corporation and the creator of FOX Broadcasting. "Not only did FOX News beat all other cable news competition with our new prime-time debut, but we also increased our ratings." The show goes on no matter what happens and for the team at Fox, they did what they needed to do to cover for the loss of personnel.
Listen to the advice of others.The growing influence of Rupert Murdoch's sons Lachlan and James helped boot the host out the door. Reportedly, the sons were involved in getting rid of Roger Ailes after Gretchen Carlson claimed that she suffered from years of harassment from the ex-CEO. With O'Reilly, the sons warned their father that it was causing more damage to keep him on the network. Although this was damaging, the inner sanctum of Fox was beginning to deteriorate. Female Fox News employees are growing increasingly frustrated, New York Magazine reported. "The Murdochs have not forcefully confronted the company’s culture of sexual harassment." Taking the advice of others should be considered before you have to go into damage control.
Refuse to tolerate poor behavior.
Approximately 31 percent of female workers claimed that they experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at some point in their careers. About 62 percent of them took no action and 100 percent of women claimed the harasser was a man. “Sexual harassment happens in just about every workplace and every industry in this country,” said Maya Raghu, the director of workplace equality for the National Women’s Law Center to Vox. “We’re hearing about these cases because they happen to be taking place at a media company and involve high-profile people. In both cases, there have been allegations over a period of years, and they both appeared to be serial harassers." The atmosphere at Fox will never get better for employees since the company has not taken ownership of any of the grievances. Tolerance of any harassment from people in senior management or from a co-worker is unacceptable. After decades of O’Reilly's rumored indiscretions, there had to be some semblance of truth to it.
Make an apology.
No matter what, O’Reilly's behavior should be condemned by the network because it allows others to get way with sexual harassment. If there are street protesters outside your building calling for justice, this could be a clue. Maybe there should be a statement issuing an apology and that the company will be looking into the matter. When there is silence, what are the other employees supposed to think? Here is the thing, if the allegations are true, and if employees are getting away with these acts for years, why should there be any accountability or an apology made?
O’Reilly's career is over at Fox, but he is far from done at the age of 67. But the bigger concern is, what is Fox going to do about a hostile working environment? The deep talent bench at the network is dwindling. The root cause so far has been the lack accountability for the sake of ratings and of course, money. However, maybe the fall of O’Reilly will wake up the executives.