The View From Here – Corporations forgive the transgressions of lucrative TV personalities until they become a liability liability

Tom Henihan
Growing up, we were encouraged not to take satisfaction in the downfall or disgrace of others. While I have mostly adhered to that credo there have been a few exceptions.

These exceptions have always involved people in the public forum who through hubris, dishonesty and disregard for others have contributed to their own demise.

Some individuals’ fall from power and prestige can only be seen as just when those people publicly and privately abused their platform and position, as was the case last week when Fox News’ braggart Bill O’Reilly got fired from the right wing news channel.

Like just about everyone at Fox News, O’Reilly was a great champion of Donald Trump and coincidentally O’Reilly also has no use for the truth in regards to exaggerating and fabricating his professional accomplishments or with his inflammatory assertions on his TV show “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Bill O’Reilly never allowed the truth to get in the way when voicing his support for those who are right wing and likeminded.

Neither was he restrained by the truth in his baseless denunciations of those who challenged his opinions or with whom he disagreed.

It was a story in The New York Times that precipitated O’Reilly’s termination. The story revealed that O’Reilly and 21 Century Fox paid five women a total of $13 million U.S. to cover up accusations of sexual harassment against O’Reilly.

When the New York Times story broke other women also came forward with allegations of their own.

O’Reilly’s parting statement certainly was not a mea culpa but instead was a short missive outlining how wonderful he thinks he is and how instrumental to Fox News’ financial success he has been.

He also said that it was “tremendously disheartening” that both he and Fox News had to part ways “due to completely unfounded claims.”

21 Century Fox issued an even terser statement regarding O’Reilly’s departure.

“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.”

Fox News did not fire O’Reilly because of his alleged behaviour towards women as the company was complicit in covering up the same “thoroughly reviewed allegations” when the five women were paid $13-million to quietly settle claims of sexual harassment.

Of course, $13 million is a small price to pay when your loudmouth star brings in approximately $178 million annually in advertising revenue.

The same unprincipled modus operandi used by Fox it also used by BMW, Allstate Corp, and T. Rowe Price, Mercedes, Jenny Craig and others who withdrew their advertising from Fox News in light of the allegations against Bill O’Reilly.

These companies did not pull their advertising from Fox on any ethical premise or in solidarity with the women that O’Reilly is accused of targeting.

They pulled their advertising because Fox News and O’Reilly committed the most grievous sin in these companies’ catechism: thou shall not compromise the brand.

That these corporations advertised in the first instance on a show hosted by a dishonest and scathing blowhard is evidence that even common decency didn’t matter. What did matter was that The O’Reilly Factor drew an estimated 3.654 million viewers with a half-million of those in the coveted demographic of 25 to 54 year olds.

I guess that these advertisers rightly assumed that if 3.654 million people would buy into anything O’Reilly had to say that they should be an easy sell with everything else as well.

Share this post