As the seemingly unending barrage of sexual harassment allegations continued to pile up against him, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly left his fate in the hands of the Murdoch family. Then they canned him.
When a report surfaced in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that Fox News was “preparing to cut ties” with the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor, supporters of the longtime political commentator were left on the sidelines in disbelief as they watched boycotters and protesters take center stage.
After dozens of advertisers pulled their commercials from the show, due in large part to an activist-driven campaign, the Murdoch family was forced to wrestle with the decision of taking their star anchor off the air. Ultimately, they put brand before loyalty.
On Wednesday, 21st Century Fox released a memo stating that the primetime anchor of the No. 1 show in cable news for 15 consecutive years would not be returning to the Fox News network. O’Reilly was still on vacation in Italy at the time of the announcement.
Only a week ago, the vast majority of Fox News viewers would have thought it inconceivable that the conservative news giant they adore would turn on their favorite host. Nevertheless, that is what can happen when progressives unite to bring unrelenting pressure on a corporation. Most of the time, the corporation will simply cave to save face. Understand, though, that when a news network decides to discipline – or, in this case, fire – an employee, it does so primarily in order to preserve its own brand.
Let me be clear: the allegations levied against O’Reilly by the women accusing him of sexual harassment are serious – and should be treated as such. The workplace should be a professional environment where all employees can pursue their respective careers without fear of sexual harassment or ethical misconduct. But there is no way for anyone on the outside looking in to accurately deduce the facts from the lies in this dispute. The only people who know for certain whether these complaints are true are the accusers and O’Reilly himself.
For a second, consider the possibility that these complaints are partially true. Perhaps O’Reilly has in the past directed inappropriate remarks toward female co-workers. It’s possible they were elicited by suggestive comments made by the women themselves. Or maybe these were just the actions of a serial sexual harasser. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the offense, there must be an appropriate penalty for acting in such a manner.
Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most celebrated Founding Fathers, wrote that “half the truth is often a great lie.”
Until the whole truth is revealed, it’s wise to refrain from casting judgment on a person. Unfortunately, many in our society today act irrationally and jump to quick conclusions when they shouldn’t.
In this case, one side of the story has been presented for the entire world to see, read and judge. The other side was just purged from his perch atop the cable news mountain.