Is It Curtains for Bill O’Reilly? Advertisers Are Fleeing As Lurid Sexual Harassment Claims Surface

Is It Curtains for Bill O’Reilly? Advertisers Are Fleeing As Lurid Sexual Harassment Claims Surface

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.


During his nearly two decades at Fox News, Bill O’Reilly has allegedly showered female staffers with verbal abuse, punished them for refusing his sexual advances and made phone calls to them in which he appeared to be masturbating at the end of the line. These are just a few of the more salacious revelations from a New York Times investigation published Saturday, which found that the network has settled with five of O’Reilly’s accusers to the tune of $13 million.

Mercedes Benz pulled its advertising from “The O’Reilly Factor” shortly thereafter. “The allegations are disturbing,” said spokeswoman Donna Boland. “Given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now.”

O’Reilly, who hosts the country’s most popular program on cable news, is no stranger to scandal. In 2004, producer Andrea Mackris hit him with a sexual harassment suit, claiming that he freely described his sexual fantasies about her and urged her to purchase a vibrator. If she or any other woman spoke out about his behavior, the Times reports, he pledged to make her “pay so dearly that [she’d] wish she’d never been born.”

O’Reilly ultimately agreed to pay Mackris $9 million, and the two parties issued a joint statement claiming “no wrongdoing whatsoever” had occurred. Mackris would never work in television news again.

In 2011, he settled for an undisclosed amount with Rebecca Gomez Diamond, a television host at the Fox Business Network. Like Mackris, Diamond had recorded her phone conversations with O’Reilly, which her lawyers presented to the company along with a list of complaints against him. Gomez would ultimately exit Fox News after signing a confidentiality agreement.

That same year, “The O’Reilly Factor” host filed for divorce from his wife, Maureen McPhilmy. His daughter later testified in court that she saw O’Reilly drag her mother down a staircase by the neck. A New York appeals court granted McPhilmy residential custody of the couple’s two children, and O’Reilly filed a separate suit against his ex-wife in the amount of $10 million accusing her of infidelity.

Looming over the New York Times’ latest report are similar charges of sexual harassment leveled against Roger Ailes, the erstwhile chairman and CEO of Fox News and Fox Television Stations Group. Ailes resigned his position in disgrace last year after several prominent Fox News employees, including Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, accused their boss of “making unwanted sexual advances” toward them.

Earlier this week, the New York Times revealed that Ailes is the target of yet another sexual harassment suit, this time from contributor Julie Roginsky, accusing him of urging her to date and have drinks with older men (like Ailes). He and several Fox News executives are presently under FBI investigation for using corporate funds as hush payments for the company’s sexual harassment victims.

Media Matters has wondered out loud how much scandal and despicable behavior it would take for the network to fire its flagship news host. On Tuesday, the National Organization for Women called for his ouster.

Since the New York Times’ report, 21 sponsors and counting have dropped “The O’Reilly Factor” amidst the growing backlash. The Media Matters staff has assembled a handy list of who’s in and who’s out:

These Are All The Other Advertisers Running During The O’Reilly Factor From The Past Week

Prominent advertisers who have stood beside the Fox News host, at least as of this writing, include Carfax, Advil, Dish and ReddiWip. A nascent social media campaign has called for a boycott of their products. On Thursday evening, Fox News issued the following statement:

UPDATE: Donald Trump has chosen to weigh in on the matter, calling O’Reilly a “good person” who should have never settled his harassmental suits. Last week, the president declared April Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

H/T New York Times

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.


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