Years ago, I watched Fox News almost every night. Bill O’Reilly’s show, O’Reilly Factor, was my favorite. Truthfully, for me, the entire Fox News primetime lineup was nothing but pure comedy. I started doing this every evening after work when I first moved to Florida. I was very bored.
How Did It All Start
Back then, it was my first experience with southern living – ever. Which was actually fitting given that I lived in a part of Florida affectionately called “Lower Alabama” by the locals. In fact, my first day in town I was warned about all the parts of the town that it wasn’t safe for a black person to be. Yes, even in 2005, as a black man, it was weird hearing those instructions coming from white folks.
But I digress.
There was never a single moment that I got angry over the absurdity of their political commentary – or, their offerings passed off as being a fair and balanced critique on issues of race.
Of course, much of what they had to say was indeed racist and rooted in ignorance. But, to me, they reflected the long-held beliefs of a certain segment of whiteness in America. At that time, for me, watching their shows served as a reminder that there were a lot of ignorant white folks in this country. I mean, so ignorant that I could do nothing but laugh at them holding the presumed mantle of moral authority and all superiority – intellectual, or otherwise.
All Good Things Come To An End
My wife years later put an end to my white people watching via the Fox News primetime lineup. She told me I had to quit because she was tired of waking up to crazy white people every morning after I would fall asleep with the TV on at night. Thankfully, however, those very same ignorant people exist on the internet, and they’re still quite entertaining.
If there’s anything to learn from Bill O’Reilly being fired by Fox News, it would be that you can’t be a racist bigot with a penchant for sexually harassing women on the job.
You can definitely be racist and still have a job at Fox News, but you can’t be both. Yes, just ask Bill O’Reilly. In fact, I’ll argue that being racist is required to have a show at Fox News. Moving forward, however, the racist creepy and borderline rapey combo, can become a liability for Fox.
And, it’s to the extent that advertisers will pull ad dollars from your program. Yes, they’ll pay for racism and xenophobia all day. But on the aforementioned Bill O’Creepy vibe? Yeah, not so much.
To date, Fox News has paid about $85 million in settlements for sexual harassment. I have no idea how much ad revenue they lost because of advertisers pulling out of The O’Reilly Factor. Considering that O’Reilly’s show was their highest rated program, one could only guess that it was a lot. What we do know, however, is that advertisers weren’t and are yet to pull any ads over claims of racism. Which is ironic, because as I type this, Fox News is currently battling lawsuits filed by employees for racial discrimination.
So yes, while some may feel the need to celebrate the demise of Bill O’Reilly. While many still applaud the ousting of Fox’s former Chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes, for sexual harassment well before the ax fell on O’Reilly. It’s important to understand that the culture of racism, sexism, and xenophobia is still alive and well at Fox News. And you know what? There are many Americans who value their content. And as long as they do, Fox News, like racism, will forever be a thing.