F irst there was Ailes. Then there was O’Reilly, the popular money-minting anchor for Fox News for two decades. Notwithstanding mounting sexual harassment allegations, Fox News and 21st Century Fox stood by their man until today, citing “evidence” such as the lack of complaints on the company’s hotline.
Specifically, O’Reilly reported to the New York Times that “in my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.”
Which leads us to Point One of why this all matters. O’Reilly’s ousting shines a spotlight on the ridiculous idea that Human Relations departments are “protecting” women in misogynistic cultures by providing internal hotlines, which in fact could be monitored by the abusers themselves. Who would dare to call an internal hotline and why does the fact that no woman ever called corroborate O’Reilly’s defense?
Time to call this concept just what it is – a way to window dress a culture that in every other way treats women demeaningly and threateningly.
But there’s more.
We all know that O’Reilly is not the only guy in the good-ole-boys club to harass or even assault women who reported to him. And he’s not the first to use hush money.
But he is the first to be forced out of a job by the actions of everyday women who used their purchasing power to influence advertisers, which is precisely what led to his ousting today.
Since an investigation by The New York Times was published two and a half weeks ago, more than 50 advertisers had abandoned O’Reilly’s show. The pulling of advertising dollars put pressure on 21st Century Fox and the Murdoch family, which controls the company.
As painful as the experiences were for all the survivors of Fox News’ toxic environment, O’Reilly’s ousting sends a very positive and powerful statement to each and every woman working today.
Our purchasing power matters. Our actions can and do make a difference. And, together we are one strong army.
Susan Jones Knape
Founder & CEO