Bill O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News is bittersweet
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Bill O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News is bittersweet

I’m not a journalist, I haven’t taken a journalism class since I was in high school and my only real qualification to talk about journalistic ethics is that I read the news a lot.

However, this means I’m roughly as qualified to comment on the firing of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News as he was to be a news anchor.

O’Reilly’s dismissal follows a series of sexual harassment allegations.

The LA Times reports The O’Reilly Factor as the most-watched news show with nearly four million viewers. Even the reruns pull sixth in news popularity with 1.65 million viewers.

For liberals who aren’t already upset by the allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, O’Reilly is sometimes argued as being responsible for the political rise of President Donald Trump. O’Reilly had a considerable amount of influence over the commander-in-chief.

When asked about the accusations against O’Reilly, Fox News diehard President Trump told the New York Times, “I think he’s a person I know well. He is a good person.”

The President was responding to a series of questions about the settlement of sexual assault cases lodged toward the news anchor, which Rolling Stone reports were settled for a total of $13 million.

I won’t say I’m unhappy to see this move, because that would be a lie. Ever since charges started to emerge against O’Reilly last summer with the departure of Roger Ailes from the network under similar circumstances, I wanted him to leave.

I’ll also admit this is at least partially biased because of my own history with sexual assault and left-of-center politics.

This is a bittersweet victory, though. While it’s good to see someone who did wrong punished, I don’t know if I can describe his termination as punishment. Even after the widespread news of sexual harassment and settlements had the news organization on the problematic footing, O’Reilly is reported to have continued to thrive within the company.

O’Reilly was the golden goose and was fired because he stopped laying eggs. By that, I am referring to the exodus of sponsors from The O’Reilly Factor reported by the BBC to be at least 50 major brands. This financial shift warranted the mentioning by the third in a series of parody commercials from HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

America’s most popular news anchor wasn’t ousted for his widespread sexual misconduct, but because he wasn’t getting advertising money anymore.

This is a completely fair reason to let go of the star, but it would’ve been nice if it been a direct response to settling a claim of unsolicited masturbation on the phone with a coworker. Maybe I’m a prude, but that seems like a good reason that arrived a long time ago.


Smith is a member of College Democrats and the Political Science League.