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.
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.