Crazy Faith Ministries
When the news broke that Fox News had fired Bill O’Reilly because of alleged sexual harassment, some were quick to say the decision to let him go was a moral choice.
It was no such thing.
It was about money. The executives at Fox News and 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, who, again allegedly, knew of his indiscretions for over 20 years according to some reports, decided that in wake of the growing publicity about what he had done, to keep him would too seriously affect their bottom line.
He had to go.
As of last Monday, 50 advertisers had pulled their ads from his show, and women’s groups were calling for his head. An article in The New York Times reported that over the span of some 20 years, the company had paid out over $13 million to women who had filed complaints against the popular Fox News celebrity.
It seems that it really is OK for some things to “be” in this country, as long as one does not get caught. More specifically, it seems that it is all right for men to sexually harass women – or even children, as was the case with priests molesting children for years – as long one is either discreet or has enough money to pay people off.
In listening to the statements of the women who have been publicly interviewed, it is clear that O’Reilly acted as he did because he knew he could. He had a parent company that would pay the women off and let him stay on the air. The “good old boys” in his profession protected him, like the priests and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church protected wayward priests.
It is the same culture that has allowed law enforcement officers to do what they have wanted to do – because they have known they could and get away with it – and the good old boys of law enforcement have protected them.
The “good old boys” club is a good one to be in, apparently, if you want to abuse the power you have and hurt people in the process. It is not the people who are affected who are cared for and protected. It is their perpetrators.
This isn’t a race issue. It is clearly a gender issue, evidence of how deeply embedded sexism is in our country. Roger Ailes lost his berth at Fox News because he was alleged to have sexually harassed women. Bill Cosby has lost his reputation as “America’s favorite dad” because of his sexual behavior. Jerry Sandusky is in prison because of what he did. And there are many more.
The president of this nation bragged about his sexual prowess, arrogantly talking about how easy it is to seduce women. He talked about grabbing women by their sexual organs, and the young man with whom he talked merely giggled.
And then there are the priests.
Women had come forward before in the case of O’Reilly, but their boldness and the steady “drip, drip, drip” of women coming forward was too threatening to the Murdoch family business. One way, always, to stop injustice, is to threaten a company’s potential for making maximum profit. No matter who you are, if you are bad for business, you are out. You can be morally compromised and nobody will say anything – at least not in the “good old boys club.” People – men and women – will laugh your behavior off if you are merely offending someone sexually. They will actually fall into the “boys will be boys” mantra and ignore the cries and complaints of those being violated.
But money? You mess with someone’s money and you mess with the wrong thing.
That’s what O’Reilly did, and that’s why he was fired.
Morality, regrettably, had little to do with it.
Dr. Susan K Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries and a communications consultant for the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference Inc.