Media Matters President Angelo Carusone, a recognized advertiser pressure campaign expert who is also running the @StopOReilly Twitter account, released the following statement after Rupert Murdoch reportedly sent a memo to staff members praising them for Fox’s recent ratings success.
Rupert Murdoch’s memo to Fox News staff should cause 21st Century Fox’s CEO, James Murdoch, and its shareholders to panic. It will intensify the anxiety that advertisers are feeling at the moment and puts more pressure on them to act. Advertisers’ decision to reject Bill O’Reilly’s program was as much about the newly public reports of serial sexual harassment as it was worry that more reports will come.
With good reason too. Roger Ailes left the network after more than two dozen reports of sexual harassment came to light. And, Fox News’ current co-presidents are linked to attempts to cover up or retaliate against women who had reported either Roger Ailes or Bill O’Reilly.
It’s clear that there’s an unresolved epidemic of sexual harassment at Fox News and advertisers know that associating with that is bad for business. The blitheness of Murdoch’s memo will not only undermine staff morale, but it just signaled to advertisers that Murdoch is committed to maintaining Fox News’ culture of harassment. Advertisers are now on notice that the only way to avoid the association and support of serial sexual harassment is to further distance themselves from Fox.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced on the April 4 edition of his show that he was taking a previously booked “vacation.” On April 12, Politico reported that O’Reilly has “has quietly made one major change recently: he is now hosting four days a week, instead of five.”
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that multiple Fox News sources are saying O’Reilly could be off the air permanently. James Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, “would like O’Reilly to be permanently taken off the air.” James’ father, Rupert; James’ older brother Lachlan; and Fox News co-president Bill Shine are pushing for O’Reilly to remain on air.