TV anchor Bill O'Reilly was forced out of Fox News on Wednesday, following a recent New York Times report revealing multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. In the weeks following the report, advertisers pulled commercials from his show, while women's groups and Fox News contributors called for him to be fired. Fox News' parent company, 21st Century Fox, sent an internal memo to its staff disclosing that O'Reilly would not return from vacation. In the statement that explained O'Reilly was ousted amid sexual harassment allegations, though, 21st Century Fox felt the need to point out what a great news anchor O'Reilly was.
First, the memo reads: "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel."
It states the decision was reached following "an extensive review" with outside counsel, then goes on to say: "By ratings standards, Bill O'Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable."
What does his success have to do with anything? The company essentially said, "We're getting rid of him because some women accused him of sexual harassment, but he was so good at his job!"
His talent as a news anchor is irrelevant.
Of course, it's an attempt by Fox News to maintain its image, and likely part of its settlement with O'Reilly (no word yet on the size of his severance package). "Fox News has demonstrated again and again the strength of its talent bench," the memo says. "We have full confidence that the network will continue to be a powerhouse in cable news." The final line of the statement adds, "Lastly, and most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect."
Actually, fostering an environment of trust and respect means not defending men accused of sexual harassment, even while pushing them out.
Lisa Bloom, a lawyer representing one woman accusing O'Reilly of sexual misconduct, previously said she and her client wouldn't stop until he was fired. After the news that O'Reilly wouldn't return to Fox, Bloom posted a statement on Twitter, saying: "Fox New should have fired him in 2004 when the first complaint was made, but at least they did it now."
Bloom's statement also said, "This is what happens when women speak our truth: we can slay dragons."
O'Reilly maintained his innocence in a statement about his departure from Fox, writing that it's "tremendously disheartening" that he has to leave due to "unfounded claims." He also followed in the footsteps of 21st Century Fox, applauding himself for years of success, "Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history."
When someone is accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault, how "good" or "successful" people think they are shouldn't be a factor in how they are judged. They're either guilty or they aren't. While Fox claims it's encouraging a new and improved corporate culture, the language of the memo — which champions success over a safe workplace for women — suggests otherwise.