Bill O'Reilly Lauds Roger Ailes: "He Saved People Routinely When They Got Into Trouble," "I Admired That Greatly"
Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office have been defined, in part, by his administration’s hostility to the press. As Media Matters has documented, Trump has attacked the press well over 100 times to date. As Trump vilifies the press, Fox News hosts, contributors, and guests help cheer him on by supporting, enabling, and condoning his attempts to discredit mainstream media outlets.
Fox’s Decision To Fire Bill O’Reilly Was Entirely Profit-Driven
As Fox News parts ways with longtime host Bill O’Reilly, some may be tempted to claim that his departure is a sign that the network and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, care about women who have been sexually harassed. But the decision has nothing to do with the systemic toxic misogyny Fox News traffics in; it’s about the bottom line.
Following an April 1 New York Times story reporting that O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox together paid a total of $13 million to five women who said O’Reilly sexually harassed them, dozens of advertisers began to pull their ads from his Fox News program, The O’Reilly Factor. Estimates suggest that the boycott could cost the network nearly $40 million in advertising revenue. It wasn’t until it was faced with this loss in revenue that the media company decided to part ways with O’Reilly.
If Fox cared about creating a safe workplace culture for women, O’Reilly would have been gone years ago. According to the Times, O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox paid a $9 million settlement in 2004 to O’Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris who reported that O’Reilly harassed her. 21st Century Fox continued to employ O’Reilly and other serial harassers and enablers for more than a decade after that settlement, even re-signing his contract with Fox News through 2020 just weeks ago.
It’s no secret that Fox News fosters a culture of toxic misogyny. In the past year, several women have come forward saying former CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed them. And the men who went on to replace Ailes have their own histories of covering up serial harassment or reportedly engaging in harassment themselves. The network has continued to hide behind the investigation it commissioned the law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct after women spoke up about Ailes, but that examination has been revealed as a total sham.
Fox is not even hiding its sexist crap behind the scenes. Just hours after the network announced that O’Reilly was leaving, Fox co-host Greg Gutfeld -- part of The Five, which will soon take over a 9 p.m. slot on the network in the aftermath of O’Reilly’s firing -- engaged in textbook sexual harassment by telling his female colleague that she was giving America an erection. And the other men filling prime-time slots in O’Reilly’s wake are sexist pigs, too.
Fox News didn’t fire O’Reilly until he was losing the network money. Even then, the top executive was hesitant to let him go. While losing O’Reilly makes Fox a safer place for women to work without fear of harassment, that wasn’t what drove this decision. It was money.
Graphic by Sarah Wasko
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
Fox News is rewarding Jesse Watters with a prime-time slot on the panel show The Five as part of the shakeup caused by Bill O’Reilly’s ouster. Watters, a former O’Reilly producer and longtime protégé, was widely condemned last year for a racist segment set in New York City’s Chinatown. His ambush interviews have disparaged immigrants, women, African-Americans, the homeless, and members of the LGBTQ community, and he earned notoriety for an incident in which he “followed, harassed, and ambushed” a female journalist on camera.
Beck Attacks Advertiser Boycotts While Simultaneously Claiming The Boycotters Never Even Advertised On O'Reilly's Show
Almost six years after former Fox News host Glenn Beck insisted that Media Matters had nothing to do with the decline in his show’s advertising and its eventual termination, he went on his radio program to blame Media Matters for Fox dropping host Bill O'Reilly. A recent report revealed that O'Reilly and Fox News have paid $13 million in settlements for sexual harassment, sparking an advertiser boycott of his show and leading to his ouster from the channel.
Beck devoted much of his April 19 radio show to calling on his listeners to help save O’Reilly after news broke that the board of directors of 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, would be meeting to decide O’Reilly’s fate. Just a few hours later, 21st Century confirmed that “Mr. O’Reilly will not return to the Fox News Channel.” O’Reilly’s advertisers largely abandoned his show after The New York Times reported on the settlements, and it appears that some advertisers are gearing up to drop Fox entirely. These advertisers are rejecting the hostile and predatory corporate environment Fox has created and allowed to fester for over a decade and are recognizing the liability that associating with such behavior presents for them.
Beck’s own show, which aired on Fox News from 2009 to 2011, was terminated after a decline in revenue, ratings, and relevance. An advertiser boycott led by Media Matters President Angelo Carusone resulted in more than 300 advertisers pulling their ads from Beck’s program after he called former President Barack Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." In February 2010, the broadcast of Beck's show in the UK lost all advertisers and began airing without any commercials. Fox saw a decline in both the number of paid advertisements running during Beck's show and, according to industry data, in what key advertisers would pay for an ad during his show.
The day before Fox announced that his show was being terminated, Beck insisted that Carusone’s campaign was not responsible for his show’s decline. Today he again claimed that the advertiser boycott didn’t hurt his show because the boycotters never advertised on his show to begin with; yet he’s now making a similar argument on O’Reilly’s behalf, while simultaneously insisting that Media Matters is “behind this with Bill O’Reilly.” According to Beck, the advertisers “that are boycotting Bill O'Reilly, most of them I'm sure never ever were even on Bill O'Reilly's show,” but he told his listeners to contact Fox News nonetheless to let it know that “‘we [can’t] stand with you if you're just letting Media Matters purge people.” From the April 19 edition of The Glenn Beck Program:
Oh, and that's right, Media Matters, who's behind this with Bill O'Reilly, they said that they believe that Fox News and Bill O'Reilly are currently the leader in conservative misinformation.
This is a purge, and it's going to be a hard purge. It's going to hurt. You need to decide where you are, and I recommend that if you find, just Google search list of advertisers that won't -- that are boycotting Bill O'Reilly, most of them I'm sure never ever were even on Bill O'Reilly's show. Some of them were, but you should probably write to them today and say, “If Bill O'Reilly is fired because you canceled, I will never buy your product again." You should write to Fox News Channel, “I want you to know, I'm not sure we can stand with you if you're just letting Media Matters purge people.”
Beck also invited O’Reilly’s lawyer to offer a defense of the Fox host on the program.
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone, a recognized advertiser pressure campaign expert who also ran the @StopOReilly Twitter account, released the following statement regarding 21st Century Fox's announcement that Bill O'Reilly will not return to Fox News:
Fox News was forced to act. They had years to address serial sexual harassment at Fox News. They didn’t; they actually enabled it. So, individuals and groups took action to educate advertisers. Advertisers fled because they immediately recognized what Fox News has ignored for over a decade: that serial sexual harassment is not only wrong, but bad for business.
Without advertisers, Bill O’Reilly’s show was no longer commercially viable. Fox News had no choice but to fire O’Reilly. Accountability came from the outside, not from within. Fox News deserves no accolades, only scorn for the industrial scale harassment they have forced their employees to endure.
On what’s next for Fox News, Carusone added:
The open question is what Fox News will do about the epidemic of sexual harassment at Fox News that extends well beyond O’Reilly as it seems to be in-part facilitated by its current co-president Bill Shine. Shine reportedly retaliated against women that came forward with reports against former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes as well as those that came forward against Bill O’Reilly. Aside from mistreating staff, Shine put shareholders and advertisers at risk by resigning a contract with O’Reilly just a few weeks ago despite knowing all the allegations.
If Fox News wants to signal that they’re serious about addressing sexual harassment, they’ll fire Bill Shine too. If not, then staff, advertisers and shareholders should beware.
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly has helped set the bar for the normalization and dissemination of right-wing hatred, offering incendiary commentary about sexual harassment and assault, gender, race and ethnicity, low-income people, the LGBTQ community, Muslims and refugees, immigrants, and reproductive rights. Now that O'Reilly has been forced to step down from The O'Reilly Factor after an advertiser revolt over revelations that Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, paid $13 million in settlements to women who came forward with reports that O’Reilly was a sexual predator, Media Matters takes a look back at some of the lowlights of his career, including his history of inaccurate and embellished reporting.
Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, And Sean Hannity Are Almost Always Wrong About Abortion, And They’re Giving Other Men A Platform To Push Further Misinformation
If you’re searching for the most misinformation-filled block of television during evening cable, look no further than the Fox News lineup of Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity. In a finding that will shock almost nobody with even cursory knowledge about abortion and reproductive rights, this all-male lineup has spent the past 12 months promoting rampant misinformation on these topics.
Media Matters analyzed evening prime-time news programs on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC from March 7, 2016 through March 1, 2017, for segments featuring a substantial discussion of abortion and reproductive rights. The 354 total segments were then coded for the number of accurate or inaccurate statements they contained about three topics: the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and late-term abortion.
Out of 116 total statements made during The O’Reilly Factor, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Hannity (out of 120 total statements on the network), 103 were inaccurate. If the sheer amount of misinformation isn't enough, the vast majority of them were made by men. Of the 110 total appearances by hosts, guests, or network correspondents on these programs in 12 months, 81 were made by men (74 percent).
When seeking information about abortion -- particularly accurate information -- most women presumably wouldn’t turn first to a man. Fox News, however, has ensured its prime-time block is dominated by male voices.
With the exception of The Kelly File, which ceased airing after then-Fox news host Megyn Kelly left the channel, and The First 100 Days, which didn’t begin airing until after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Fox’s prime-time evening lineup is dominated by male-hosted programs. And these programs also promote mainly male voices when it comes to the topics of abortion and reproductive rights.
From March 7, 2016, through March 1, 2017, The O’Reilly Factor featured 47 appearances from men (71 percent) and only 19 from women (29 percent) during segments about abortion. During the same 12-month period, there were 26 appearances by men (76 percent) and only eight by women (24 percent) to discuss reproductive rights on Hannity. Tucker Carlson Tonight did not begin airing until after the 2016 election, making the sample size smaller than either The O’Reilly Factor or Hannity. However, of the five months of Tucker Carlson Tonight considered in Media Matters’ analysis, the program featured 80 percent male appearances in discussions about the reproductive rights of women.
Overall, during the 12-month study period, 74 percent of appearances among all three programs featured men talking about abortion and reproductive rights. Excluding guests who were employed by Fox News (as professional commentators, analysts, or contributors), all three programs also largely hosted male guests, many of whom have a history of anti-choice policy making.
For example, The O’Reilly Factor served as a platform for guests including Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Mike Pence -- all of whom have openly supported anti-choice policies. The male guests on Hannity unsurprisingly included Reince Priebus, who would become Trump’s chief of staff, and then-Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci.
Hannity was also the only person on evening cable news to host discredited anti-choice activist David Daleiden, founder of CMP. Every other program -- even, surprisingly, other Fox News programs -- deemed the anti-abortion activist who deceptively edited smear videos and has since been charged with 15 felonies in California an unpalatable guest.
Luckily for Daleiden, there’s always Sean Hannity. With their powers combined, Daleiden and Hannity managed to conduct a full segment featuring 100 percent inaccurate information in terms of CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential services, and late-term abortion. During his April 2016 appearance on Hannity, Daleiden made five inaccurate statements about the veracity of CMP’s work -- even though multiple state and federal investigations found that the organization's claims about abortion providers were baseless. Hannity himself contributed three inaccurate statements about CMP during the segment and zero accurate ones. This pattern was not limited to just his segment with Daleiden, however. Hannity managed to make only inaccurate statements on these topics throughout the entire study period.
Although Tucker Carlson appears to share Daleiden’s affinity for employing deceptive editing and even using actors to represent highly curated versions of opposing viewpoints, he managed -- without Daleiden's help -- to be wrong 100 percent of the time about CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential services, and late-term abortion.
O’Reilly, Hannity, and Carlson also featured primarily guests who openly represent anti-abortion organizations, including Marjorie Dannenfelser (president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List), conservative commentator Crystal Wright, Alveda King (anti-abortion activist for Priests for Life and Civil Rights for the Unborn), and Abby Johnson (founder of CEO of And Then There Were None).
Overall, Media Matters’ analysis found that 80 percent of statements about CMP, Planned Parenthood's essential servies, and late-term abortion made during Fox News’ evening prime-time programming were inaccurate. It should come as no surprise that The O’Reilly Factor, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and Hannity were responsible for 67 percent of the network’s inaccurate statements.
Then again, if your ace prime-time lineup is composed of a man accused of being a serial sexual predator who can’t stop advertisers from fleeing his program (and is likely about to lose it), a hero of white nationalists who is known for bullying his guests, and Sean Hannity, you’re probably not that worried about ensuring accuracy or giving women’s voices an equal platform.
*Graphics by Sarah Wasko
Wall Street Journal: "Fox Is Preparing To Cut Ties With Bill O’Reilly"
21st Century Fox’s board of directors will meet to discuss the future of longtime Fox News host Bill O’Reilly following revelations that O’Reilly and the network spent millions to settle sexual harassment complaints against the host.
According to a report from CNN’s Brian Stelter, “The network's parent company, 21st Century Fox (FOX), will hold a board meeting on Thursday” to discuss O'Reilly's future at the organization.” According to Stelter, one source said, “representatives for Fox and O'Reilly have begun talking about an exit.”
A well-placed source said Tuesday afternoon that representatives for Fox and O'Reilly have begun talking about an exit. But this prompted a denial from sources in O'Reilly's camp.
Even one person close to O'Reilly, however, said he will probably not be back on "The O'Reilly Factor."
The original well-placed source said an announcement about O'Reilly's fate was likely by the end of the week.
The fact that none of these sources were willing to go on the record speaks to the delicate maneuvering underway.
The network's parent company, 21st Century Fox (FOX), will hold a board meeting on Thursday, a spokeswoman told CNNMoney. One of the sources said O'Reilly will be a primary topic.
The report comes after The New York Times revealed that O’Reilly and the network paid nearly $13 million to quietly settle lawsuits against the host for allegations of sexual harassment. As more women came forward with reports of sexual harassment and retaliation by O’Reilly dozens of companies pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s timeslot.
21st Century Fox’s board of directors includes Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch, James Murdoch, Jeffrey Ubben, Tidjane Thiam, Robert Silberman, Jacques Nasser, Viet Dinh, David DeVoe, James Breyer, Delphine Arnault, Sir Roderick Eddington, Chase Carey. See below:
UPDATE: According to The Wall Street Journal (which shares a parent company with 21st Century Fox), “Fox News is preparing to cut ties with its biggest star, Bill O’Reilly.” Despite O’Reilly’s viewership, Fox news will have to decide the “pros and cons of keeping Mr. O’Reilly on the air” as advertisers continue to leave his show. From The Wall Street Journal:
A final decision on Mr. O’Reilly’s fate could come as early as the next several days, the people said. Mr. O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” has been ensnared in a sexual-harassment scandal related to previously undisclosed settlements he and Fox News paid to women who worked on or appeared on his program.
Initially, Fox News and parent company 21st Century Fox stood by their highly-rated host. Mr. O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing, saying he paid settlements to “put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”
However, as advertisers fled his show, debate inside company ensued over the pros and cons of keeping Mr. O’Reilly on the air. His show draws about 4 million viewers a night, and the controversy didn’t dent his ratings.
This piece has been updated with additional information.
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.
Evening Cable News Can’t Seem To Talk About Abortion Without Relying On Men And Anti-Choice Myths
A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs found that discussions of abortion, reproductive rights, and reproductive health were heavily dependent on male speakers and anti-choice misinformation. In particular, Media Matters found that men were participants in 60 percent of conversations about abortion and reproductive rights, and that 64 percent of statements about abortion that aired during this time period were inaccurate.
Donald Trump broke with decades of precedent in 2016 by refusing to release his tax returns in the midst of his presidential campaign, a stubborn refusal he has maintained since taking office in January. On April 15, the day tax filings are traditionally due, Americans will march in over 100 cities around the country to demand that the president fully disclose his tax and financial records. Before the Tax March, take a look at some attempts by Trump's team of Fox News sycophants to defend his unprecedented refusal to disclose his tax returns.
Similar Media Support Helped Enable Iraq War
After President Donald Trump launched airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack in that country, media figures from across the political spectrum praised his “beautiful” attack, with many also linking the action to the growing threat that another country -- North Korea -- poses to the United States. Effusive media support of military conflict was a key precursor to the Iraq War; the danger of such uncritically hawkish commentary has multiplied under Trump, who sources policy ideas -- and defenses for his conduct -- directly from media.