Friday, November 17, 2017
Opinion

Ruth: The truth keeps coming out about O’Reilly

RECOMMENDED READING


Itís merely an idle guess, but donít you suspect that after Bill OíReilly had paid millions of dollars to settle at least five sexual harassment claims, it would have dawned on him that the James Bond theme does not automatically start playing whenever he finds himself in the company of women?

The $32 million reportedly paid to former Fox News analyst Lis Wiehl may at last have sent a message to OíReilly. According to the New York Times, the grand total of sexual harassment claims against him is now pegged at about $45 million. Thatís a great deal of heavy breathing. Some men collect stamps, coins or matchbooks. OíReilly seems to have pulled together a notable portfolio of billable hours.

To be sure, OíReilly joins a long (and growing) list of oafs behaving badly ó the late Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, film producer Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood fixture James Toback among them. And let us not forget the creepy conduct toward women of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

Still, OíReilly certainly represents literally the gold standard of workplace harassment toward female colleagues. It wasnít as if nobody was aware that OíReilly seemed to regard the Fox newsroom as the Playboy mansion. As far back as 2004, OíReilly was making lurid late-night phone calls propositioning producer Andrea Mackris, asking her to do strange things with a "falafel." Good grief; OíReilly couldnít even get his sex toys straight.

Time passed, including a $1.6 million settlement with frequent on-air guest Juliet Huddy and seven-figure payouts to other women. And yet OíReilly continued his behavior, which was just fine with Fox News as long the host pulled in big ratings for his nightly show, which might have been more properly titled The Declassť Zone.

To be sure, OíReilly is responsible for his actions and the price to be paid for his attacks. But let us not forget for many years his sexual harassment was tolerated by Fox News, and especially Ailes, who engaged in similar behavior. Ratings and the advertising revenue they generated, it seemed, trumped common decency.

It had to be a spin worthy of a whirling dervish when OíReilly claimed he was innocent of any wrongdoing and only agreed to $45 million in payments out of a loving paternal desire to shield his children from all the accusations. But these were the same children who reportedly witnessed their father abuse their mother. They were quite aware dear old pop was a Daddy Dearest.

Earlier this year, despite all the documented claims of sexual harassment, Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox not only renewed OíReillyís contract but bumped up his paycheck to $25 million a year.

But the 21st Century Foxís leadership, Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James, added a twist to the deal, stipulating that if any future disclosures of a sexual harassment claim became public, OíReilly would be toast. Really now, did OíReilly, or anyone at Fox, believe a $32 million settlement to resolve allegations of sexual impropriety wouldnít eventually leak?

Itís hard to envision OíReilly ever working in television again. Itís even harder to imagine anyone wanting to buy any of his insufferable "Killing" books. Perhaps Wiehlís check was so large because the allegations are so explosive, including charges he engaged in nonconsensual sex with her.

OíReilly was one of the great con men of cable news. He proudly beat his patriotic breast for all that is great and virtuous about America, while behind scenes using his clout to demean and victimize co-workers. And it all came crashing down merely because advertisers had begun to withdraw their support from OíReillyís nightly hypocrisy-fest.

His loss of airtime was never about morality. It was about money.

Comments
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Wage hike for contractorsí labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractorsí labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise ó for every...
Published: 11/16/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Krisemanís new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Krisemanís new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Krisemanís own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trumpís latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included ó along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election ó an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17
Editorial: U.S. should resume processing visas for Cubans

Editorial: U.S. should resume processing visas for Cubans

The health attacks reported on American diplomats in Cuba deserve a serious investigation, and the Cuban governmentís cooperation in the case will ó for better or for worse ó shape the emerging relationship between the two nations. But the Trump admi...
Published: 11/13/17

Another voice: This little-discussed part of the GOP tax bill proves what itís really about

Republicans insist that their tax reform is designed to help the middle class and curb the use of tax loopholes. But a little-discussed provision tells a different story. That provision is the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, which would serve ...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/13/17
Editorial: Eaganís departure from HART a loss for Tampa Bay

Editorial: Eaganís departure from HART a loss for Tampa Bay

Katharine Eaganís departure as the chief executive of Hillsborough Regional Transit to run the transit agency in Pittsburgh reflects the sorry state of transportation in Tampa Bay. While there recently has been encouraging movement on several fronts,...
Published: 11/09/17

Another voice: Donít get too cocky, Dems

For months, the Virginia gubernatorial race has been seen as a bellwether of the Democratic Partyís capacity to rebound from its stunning loss to Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest, and the results were about as good as Democrat...
Published: 11/09/17

Editorial: Remarkable support for Penny for Pinellas

A 55 percent win in any election is a solid victory. Constitutional amendments in Florida must win 60 percent of the vote to be approved. And tax referendums are often hard to pass by any margin. That makes it all the more remarkable that the extensi...
Published: 11/08/17
Updated: 11/10/17