Over 80 advertisers issued public statements confirming that they removed ads from Bill O’Reilly’s show in the wake of revelations about multiple settlements for sexual harassment totalling over $13 million (with dozens more quietly taking the action or keeping them off in the first place). Even the CEO of Fox News’ parent company reportedly wants O’Reilly off the air permanently.
A decade ago, O’Reilly himself pushed for advertisers to drop media outlets after they mentioned his 2004 sexual harassment settlement with former associate producer Andrea Mackris, calling them “smear merchants” and even accusing one of defending child predators.
O’Reilly’s website still maintains a list of “Media Outlets that Traffic in Defamation,” and urges readers not to “patronize or advertise with” them. O’Reilly added several of the listed outlets after they referenced the 2004 settlement.
In March of 2006, O’Reilly added the Dayton Daily News to his “don’t buy, don’t advertise list,” saying the "Dayton Daily News personally attacked" him. Editor Jeff Bruce responded, explaining that O’Reilly was furious that the paper referred to O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlement, and had used that as a pretext to accuse the paper of “sympathy for child rapists”:
"Mr. O'Reilly is upset with the newspaper because in an editorial we referred to his own recent legal history in which he was accused of sexual harassment. His producer threatened that unless we published an apology they would resort to their 'bully pulpit.' That's what they've done. This isn't about being 'soft' on child molesters. It's about Bill O'Reilly getting even.
His producer, in a conversation with me, acknowledged the logic of our editorial's argument. But they felt dragging O'Reilly's own legal problems into the article was gratuitous. While I expected O'Reilly to take a shot at us, I was shocked that he would suggest that this newspaper 'has sympathy for child rapists.' That is a deliberate distortion of what we said and what we stand for, and nothing could be further from the truth."
A month later, O’Reilly added the Syracuse Post-Standard to his boycott list, after an editorial in the paper ran a quiz that referenced O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlement.
In December 2006, O’Reilly added The Roanoke Times to the list after editorial page editor Daniel Radmacher wrote a column ridiculing O’Reilly’s “War on Christmas” “nonsense” that was “manufactured in 2004 by that sanctimonious hypocrite Bill O'Reilly to bump up ratings -- and maybe distract attention from that whole unfortunate sexual harassment/phone sex episode."
O’Reilly responded by lashing out at Radmacher both on his radio show and TV show, saying the Virginia paper “was the worst. It was extremely mean-spirited, personal attacks on me by a guy named Dan Radmacher, a left-wing loon. We did some research on him, and it's disgraceful. And they go on our ‘don't buy, don't advertise’ list, Roanoke Times. Because anybody would employ a guy like that -- and you know, and we did, we walked back and looked at what he did -- is irresponsible. It's just horrible.”
O’Reilly has targeted other outlets that had previously mentioned his sexual harassment settlement, including the St. Petersburg Times, which he called “the nation’s worst newspaper” months after then-editorial board member Robert Friedman wrote in May of 2005 (via Nexis):
I always assumed that if you'd heard one professional talker's phone sex tapes, you'd heard them all. Wrong. Sure, Pat O'Brien's and Bill O'Reilly's are comparably repellent. But the similarities end there.
O'Reilly, the Fox News talk show host, prefers a more baroque technique, weaving elaborate fantasies involving various Mediterranean words he apparently doesn't understand. “You would basically be in the shower and I would join you and . . . take that little loofah thing and kinda soap up your back. . . . So anyway I'd be (deleted dirty parts) . . . kissing your neck from behind and then I would take the other hand with the falafel thing and I'd put it on your (more deleted dirty parts). . .” (That's part of the transcript of a phone conversation included in the sexual harassment complaint filed against O'Reilly last year by former Fox News producer Andrea Mackris. The two later reached an out-of-court settlement.)
Similar mentions of O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlement with Mackris are found on Nexis in the archives of The New Yorker, U.S. News & World Report, Newsday, The Kansas City Star, and the Chicago Sun-Times, though it is not clear when O’Reilly designated them “don’t buy, don’t advertise.” The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus is not on Nexis.
On occasion, O’Reilly also demanded that advertisers leave outlets that were negative to him for other reasons. In January of 2006, O’Reilly reiterated calls for advertisers to boycott The New York Daily News and added Newsday to his list for running negative “attacks” about his appearance on David Letterman’s show. Shortly thereafter, O’Reilly added the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to his “don’t buy, don’t advertise” list after accusing the paper of being “a far left publication that slants news coverage and deals in defamation.” A week later O’Reilly furiously attacked the paper and demanded that advertisers boycott the paper in response to an editorial praising the speeches of Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter at Coretta Scott King’s funeral.
Jared Holt and Julie Millican contributed research to this post.