Will Fox News survive Bill O’Reilly?


Seems there might be a new book by Bill O’Reilly in the works: Killing O’Reilly.

He’s doing a pretty good job of it. As The New York Times reported Sunday, Fox and its controversial night-time host paid at least five women $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims. The story contained a word for self-gratification I never thought I’d ever see on the front page of the Times, unless it was in Woody Allen’s obit.

Bill-O’Reilly.jpg

The corporate reaction by advertisers was swift. Almost two-dozen — out of hundreds — cancelled their buys on O’Reilly’s show. And these weren’t mattress and health supplement ads. Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai, GSK, Bayer, Lexus and several others issued statements distancing their brands from O’Reilly. The National Organization for Women called for his firing. And this, of course, follows last year’s dismissal of Fox founding chairman Roger E. Ailes for similar charges.

According to the Times, “a spokesman for Mr. O’Reilly, Mark Fabiani, declined to comment on Tuesday. Mr. O’Reilly has said that the accusations against him are without merit and that his fame has made him a target ‘for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel.’ He did not address the issue on either his Monday night or Tuesday night broadcasts.”

What’s a media superstar to do? Especially one who in his defense, cloaks himself with his employer. He’s saying, it’s not just me, it’s Fox, and if I go down, it does as well.

O’Reilly, through his prime time show The O’Reilly Factor is an enormous franchise. The show generated almost half a billion dollars in ad revenue from 2014-16, the newspaper reported. His books are immediate bestsellers.

Not that anyone expects it, but if he called me, here’s what I’d tell him to do: Apologize. Drop the “no comment” stuff. Take six weeks off and enter a serious rehab. It could be for anger management — his daughter testified in his divorce that she’d seen him abuse her mother — sexual addiction or any other problem.

Look yourself in the mirror and apologize sincerely and fully. Take responsibility. Show your character. Do what’s right. You know, the stuff you’re always telling others to do.

Admit your shortcomings publicly and promise to do better. Apologize to your victims, your colleagues, your friends, your family and everyone you embarrassed and hurt. This isn’t a political issue. This is a behavioral issue. To whom much is given, much is expected. Do the right thing.

Come back in six weeks “a new person.” Clean up your act, or resign.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Senior Vice President/Managing Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with eight offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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5 Responses to Will Fox News survive Bill O’Reilly?

  1. A. Lieb says:

    Not all sexual offenders–on or off the media–could (and especially should) return to their jobs. Rare, it seems, is the crisis manager who advocates a personality leaving the limelight outright, not only for his own good, but for the greater good of society. Fox got it right with Roger Ailes: he’s gone. O’Reilly too needs to leave–for his own good, for the good (and reputation) of the network, and for the benefit of the viewership.

    • Diane Ivanicki says:

      You mean like President Bill Clinton should have left the White House for the good of the country and our children after his relations with several women? That was much worse then this. Although, I think this is a terrible situation and will be disappointed if O’Reilly’s accusations are proven true.

      • A. Lieb says:

        If Bill Clinton was guilty of rape, then absolutely he should have been removed (and prosecuted)! (My understanding is that he was guilty of consensual adultery [in which instance, both parties mutually agreed to do the nasty].) The upshot there is a lot of embarrassment, probably some regret, and a poor moral (but still legal) example for the children to follow. (Interestingly, in some European countries [France immediately comes to mind], extramarital affairs receive a minimal amount of attention from press and citizenry alike.)
        It appears that the other Bill–O’Reilly–is indeed guilty as charged; Fox dropped him permanently from its lineup. I assume he’s having a beer with Roger Ailes as I write this, swapping sexual misconduct stories.

  2. Cristobal says:

    It appears that the other Bill–O’Reilly–is indeed guilty as charged; Fox dropped him permanently from its lineup. I assume he’s having a beer with Roger Ailes as I write this, swapping sexual misconduct stories. Tried and convicted in the press as usual it seems. I am not saying he is not guilty but I am not saying he is either. Having him leave is not an admission of guilt but rather a good move for the company since there have been multiple counts it seems. But celebrities and big businesses get sued all the time as you well know and not always for good reason. I am just not a big fan of putting people on trial in the media. Hopefully that is what we have courts for is to get a fair trial with ALL the facts. And that goes for everyone not just this case.

  3. A. Lieb says:

    Truly, fair trials should be available to all parties, and all the time, in a functioning democracy. In many instances, however, going to trial can prove impossibly costly and excruciatingly drawn out. The courts are there not as an immediate go to for those who think they’ve been wronged, but rather as a final resort, once all other avenues (ie: negotiations, out of court settlements) have been exhausted.
    There has been a marked increase in people charged with crimes and misdemeanours complaining that they’ve been tried and convicted in the press. But that’s been true for over a century in yellow journalism and the tabloid press (fake news was a prime catalyst of the Spanish-American War, thanks to Joseph Pulitzer). But the responsible press invariably follows its own strict ethical guidelines and rather than orchestrate a trial by media, simply does its job. That job is reporting the story. In this instance, the responsible press simply reported that O’Reilly had been fired by Fox, and why. There was no speculation, just a reporting of those facts.

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