Why Bill O'Reilly Really Got Fired

It wasn't because Fox News cares about sexual harassment.
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Rupert Murdoch

First things first, a few weeks back I wrote a column titled "Bill O’Reilly Isn’t Going Down: Fox News Doesn’t Care About Women People."

Whoops!

In my defense, Bill O'Reilly has gotten away with racist, sexist invective for years, so I never once considered the possibility that he'd lose advertisers at a faster rate than Glenn Beck. Nobody batted an eye when it was reported that O'Reilly allegedly beat his wife in front of their children, so surely a little sexual harassment wouldn't matter. Especially to an audience that elected Trump. And at the end of the day, it really didn't.

You see, during this whole debacle, Rupert Murdoch has remained reluctant to fire O'Reilly unless the situation affected his pending acquisition of Sky TV. From Gabriel Sherman at the beginning of April:

Insiders at Fox News worry the scandal could threaten to derail Murdoch’s $14 billion bid to acquire all of the European pay-TV service Sky. It’s happened before: Murdoch’s previous bid to acquire Sky was scuttled by the London phone-hacking scandal. At Fox News, there is talk that the post-Ailes scandals are giving new ammunition to critics who oppose the takeover. “O’Reilly will be gone if Murdoch thinks it will help the Sky merger get approved,” an insider said.

But with the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal essentially confirming that O'Reilly is fired - and also conveniently allowing his lawyer to claim that O'Reilly is the victim of a "brutal campaign of character assassination" - make no mistake that removing O'Reilly was not done in the interest of protecting female employees at Fox from sexual harassment. From Gabriel Sherman's latest:

Female Fox News employees are growing increasingly frustrated that the Murdochs have not forcefully confronted the company’s culture of sexual harassment in the wake of removing Roger Ailes. “Morale is awful,” one Fox female executive told me yesterday, adding that employees are wondering if budgets have been cut to pay for sexual-harassment settlements. “There’s been no word from management to calm the masses.” (Spokespersons for 21st Century Fox and Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.)

As Sherman notes, Rupert Murdoch's primary concerns are not looking like he was "forced into a decision by The New York Times" and, most importantly, securing the Sky deal. Not once in that equation does he give a flying fuck if his news station is an open buffet for perverts. He didn't with Ailes, and he sure as shit wasn't about to start with O'Reilly. So don't give these assholes credit for doing the right thing until they were backed into a corner.

By The New York Times.

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