MORAL LAPSES HELP THE
I emerge from the distractions of Easter Season to find that the world has been shaken. Bill O’Reilly is gone from Fox News.
I have no trouble imagining that O’Reilly is a jerk with women.
Projecting and maintaining such a distinctive and well developed persona — the all-knowing, all powerful defender of truth — requires a mighty ego. And when the flame of self-confidence is stoked to such a degree, respect for other people’s personal dignity may not seem all that important.
Good-looking babe? Hey, what’s a little harassment between friends?
Of course, displays of sexual interest, applications of sexual pressure, even naughty language are subject to widely differing interpretations.
One person’s amusing double-entendre is another person’s shocking vulgarity. Likewise, what I may dismiss as playful flirtation, you might find profoundly intimating.
We can’t know what erotic messages Bill O’Reilly communicated to his female colleagues. We weren’t there. And even if we had been, we’d probably each have our own take.
What I find interesting about his fall, however, is the timing. After years of accusations, and millions in apparent hush money paid, outrage explodes now?
Now there’s a mass withdrawal of advertisers? Even though viewership numbers for “The O’Reilly Factor” have been through the roof?
This doesn’t hold up in the “No Spin Zone.”
Gallantry is not a predominant feature of modern Corporate America. Who risks market share to protect women’s feelings?
Sure, companies care about image and customer attitudes. But fear of angry letters and possible boycotts isn’t that motivating — not with huge TV ratings at stake. Business’ natural inclination is to lie low and let controversy blow over.
There’s something more going on here.
This situation smells a whole lot like the scandal surrounding Bill Cosby. That was another instance where long-simmering accusations against a highly visible figure reached a sudden crescendo, destroying a carefully crafted public image.
In Cosby’s case, that included his numerous appeals for individual responsibility.
Writing at the time for the online journal, American Thinker, I observed…
“What we’re hearing about him lately rather weakens his message, to say the least. And that’s very much to the point. Eliminating Bill Cosby as a dissident voice in the lefty atmosphere of Hollywood — where it’s an article of Received Truth that the solutions to all social problems, and especially to the woes of black people, lie in government — no doubt brings satisfaction to those who consider Cosby a right-wing pawn.”
I pointed out a peculiar confluence of circumstances: that another prominent black man, Dr. Ben Carson, was just then emerging as a credible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination…
“Why has the media finally decided to focus so intensely on the alleged abuse of these women — incidents that would have occurred over an extended period of time — at this particular moment?”
And I couldn’t avoid concluding that, in the explosion over Bill Cosby, what we were actually hearing was a shot across the bow of Ben Carson.
Fast forward to today.
The collapse of Fox News’ star on-air personality and its flagship primetime show adds tarnish to the network’s luster — already reduced by a similar scandal in which its founder, Roger Ailes, was forced out last year.
But what conditions exist now that would make certain people see a timely advantage in bringing down Bill O’Reilly?
That’s obvious: Donald Trump is in the White House.
Any diminishment of the one major media organization that’s not an avowed enemy of The Donald has to be viewed as an advantage by the Left.
This assumption is supported by an email, obtained by talk host, Glenn Beck. The message indicates that those advertiser withdrawals were organized by the hard-Left (George Soros-supported/pro-Clinton) Media Matters organization, and directed by MM’s fundraising consultant, Mary Pat Bonners.
As reported by The Blaze, Beck’s online news service, Bonners’ email was distributed to companies advertising on “The O’Reilly Factor”…
“‘For years,’ the email begins, ‘Bill O’Reilly has been one of the worst purveyors of misinformation on Fox News. A serial misinformer, pushing many of the most extreme, sexist, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic conservative theories on TV ….’
“‘We are currently at a critical juncture in this campaign ….’ she wrote, before inviting recipients to join a couple of ‘update calls’ [to coordinate the anti-O’Reilly action] ….”
Beck told listeners of his radio program that Fox News leadership decided to cut O’Reilly loose for fear of huge revenue losses. Beck insisted he…
“would not be saying this if I had personal information’ that the accusations against O’Reilly were true.”
In a discussion on the CNN morning news show, “Early Start,” political reporter Tal Kopan pointed to a link between O’Reilly and the electoral success of Trump…
“And if you think about Bill O’Reilly, you know, he sort of created this movement, didn’t he? And many think that if there was no Bill O’Reilly, there would be no President Donald Trump.”
Which, somewhat exaggerates O’Reilly’s personal importance to The Donald, but does speak to a certain truth. Fox News has played an erratic, but nevertheless invaluable, role in the Trump Revolution.
From the nadir of their relationship — with Megyn Kelly’s transparently self-aggrandizing debate sneak attack on Trump’s caddish attitude toward women — Fox and Trump have achieved a coexistence that’s proven mutually beneficial.
Writing for Politico, national political reporter Eliana Johnson insists the improvement was a conscious choice of Fox head honcho Rupert Murdoch…
“For the 89 percent of Republican voters who cast ballots for Trump, their backing represented a departure from many of the principles that have animated the American conservative movement for six decades. Today, those voters remain broadly supportive of the president personally ….”
Johnson insists that Murdoch read the handwriting on the wall early on. And so Fox News, as other conservative media, has been…
“increasingly pulled by a tractor beam that demands positive coverage of the president regardless of how far he wanders from the ideas they once enforced. Producers and editors have been faced with a choice: Provide that coverage or lose your audience.”
“Over the course of the campaign and into the beginning of his presidency, anti-Trump voices slowly receded from Fox’s air, while those favorable to him began to appear more often.”
All of which underscores the importance to the Left of subverting Fox News. Hence, the organized effort to destroy Bill O’Reilly.
In its “long march through the institutions,” the Left has marched through the business community as well. There are plenty of what used to be termed “fellow travelers” in the management ranks of America’s major advertisers. And they’re doing their part for the cause.
Still, amid all the intrigue and high politics, we mustn’t lose sight of an important moral point: Our sins can catch up with us. Human weakness is always — as it were — a factor.
If indeed Bill O’Reilly is as big a jerk with women as would appear, then clearly that lesson is pressing upon him.
“The spin stops here.”
Fox News talk host Sean Hannity opened his Monday night show with a statement that very much parallels my view of the Bill O’Reilly situation. As reported by The Hill, Hannity told his listeners that he too has been a target of sexual harassment claims…
“Hannity said there have always been efforts during his time at Fox News to ‘smear and slander and besmirch’ him. But those efforts have not been as ‘intense and completely insane’ as they are now, he added.
“It has only gotten worse in the age of President Trump,’ Hannity said.
‘Now, it’s no secret I have been a supporter of the president and of course his policies. And quite simply, these liberal fascists — they can’t stand conservative voices’ ….
“Liberal fascism is alive and well in America today. Their goal is simple: They want to shut up and shut down and silence all conservative voices by any means necessary.”
Rush Limbaugh asks why it is that leftist media figures never have to worry about major advertiser boycotts. And he hints archly at other changes afoot at Fox News, due to the generational transition underway between Ruppert Murdoch and his sons…
Eliana Johnson maintains that the Trump Revolution has had a shattering impact on conservative media that goes well beyond the departure of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News…
National Review Senior Writer David French sees the O’Reilly situation as symptomatic of a larger problem which he terms a “toxic culture of conservative celebrity”…