I don’t like Bill O’Reilly.
I don’t like his style and I don’t like his show, although I’ve watched it every now and then just to familiarize myself with it. I don’t watch most shows of that type (talk and opinion) anyway, except on occasion when there might be a particularly interesting segment or interviewee.
And yes, the accused is innocent till proven guilty—in a court of law, that is. But a TV station isn’t a court of law. Public opinion and/or advertisers aren’t a court of law.
So Fox executives can fire O’Reilly if they want—but it still disturbs me when a person is fired over allegations. With O’Reilly it’s a pattern of allegations, to be sure, and they probably are credible allegations, in my opinion. But the allegations are as yet unproven (unless there’s a lot of evidence we haven’t seen yet), and it makes me uneasy that any person’s career can end if a bunch of people allege sexual harassment. There is too much temptation to make false allegations.
I repeat: it makes me uneasy.
Also—didn’t we already know about similar allegations towards O’Reilly? I had a vague recollection of a recorded phone message where he was hitting on some woman—and yes, after looking it up, I discovered a case from 2004 featuring many lurid allegations against O’Reilly and even the existence of telephone recordings (although I couldn’t locate the recordings themselves, or whether the alleged conversations were ever authenticated).
Is this a case of where there’s enough smoke, there’s fire? Or do we have a bunch of allegations that may or may not be true but cannot possibly be proven? Can we expect or demand proof? And, once the story gets going and advertisers move away from the network because they get scared, isn’t it completely understandable that Fox wants to cut its losses by getting rid of the person against whom the accusations are lodged, whether proof exists or not?
I have absolutely no problem believing that O’Reilly is a smarmy, predatory scumbag who is guilty of all of this and more. Hey, I thought he gave off a smarmy scumbag vibe even before I heard the allegations. But still, this chain of events makes me very uneasy, because it demonstrates a perfect way to assassinate anyone’s character (in particular, any man’s character, because although women could also be accused of sexual harassment, the charges are less common against women and less likely to stick).
And according to this Vanity Fair article, there’s more trouble to come at Fox News. Does this merely reflect the depth of the rot there, or is it the result of a concerted effort by the left to undermine Fox? For example, see this comment at Legal Insurrection:
After a decade of trying, the left finally got [O’Reilly]. Like him or not, if you think this is the end game for those who are taking credit like Media Matters and the NYT, you miss what is going on. Succeeding with the most visible commentator that calls out the left only invigorates the donors. And there is an endless supply of recently graduated snowflakes who have been indoctrinated in stifling speech and would never question becoming a low paid foot soldier in smear campaigns, etc. Forget personal tastes, this is the most visible shot across the bow.
Tucker Carlson, O’Reilly’s replacement, is about a million times better as an interviewer and as a thinker than O’Reilly is, and I’m far more inclined to watch his show than O’Reilly’s. But that doesn’t matter in terms of what I”m saying here.
[NOTE: By the way, settling a claim out of court is not an admission of guilt, especially when large businesses do it. It’s much cheaper to settle than to defend a lawsuit, and there’s much less publicity and uncertainty, so it’s often done.]