Fox News faces multiple sexual harassment accusations. Those involved, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, and Jesse Waters, are the exact occurrences that can put a burden on the reputation of not only the employees but on the corporation as a whole. In April of 2017 it was said that Bill O’Reilly had paid an approximate sum of 13 million dollars to five women in exchange for these women to not pursue legal action against him. Many of O’Reilly’s sponsors stopped supporting the show and O’Reilly himself just days after news of the payouts hit the mainstream media. O’Reilly along with his fellow news commentators at Fox who are being accused of sexual advances or comments are still denying any accusations made against them. O’Reilly gave more than just a simple denial of the act but furthermore gave an explanation, He stated that he paid these women to spare his daughters from any media scrutiny.
1. Company Response
Fox has made no attempts to publicly respond to the situation in the media. The only observed occurrence was a public disciplinary talk with Roger Ailes after his situation was realized by Fox, along with the 13 million dollar payouts with Bill O’Reilly to settle the suits from escalating any further.President of the organization Terry O’Neil said that the cases exemplifies abuse of power in companies and asked for an investigation within Fox News believing that O’Reilly’s “miss-behavior” is just the tip of the iceberg, and that this kind of behavior was a part of Fox’s business culture
2. Public Response
In response to the sexual harassment allegations against Fox News and more specifically against veteran host Bill O’Reilly the National Organization for Women released a statement demanding O’Reilly’s firing from the network. Here is a part of the statement by Terry O’Neill:
“The report indicates that Mr. O’Reilly abused his position of power and engaged in a pattern of predatory, misogynistic behavior — enticing women with promises of career advancement, and threatening retribution when they rebuffed his sexual advances,”. O’Neill concludes, “Women have the right to go to work without facing harassment. Fox News apparently doesn’t get that basic concept.”
3. Social Media
Social media responded to the O’Reilly controversy in a straightforward manner. Viewers of the “O’Reilly Factor” and the people familiar with his case, went to twitter and attacked the host and made fun of him. A fake account, proclaiming to be “GOD” tweeted: “After decades of lies, Bill O’Reilly has officially been fired. (…) You see? Sometimes if you wait, good things CAN happen in this life!”. (see APPENDIX) Others make fun of the fact that President Trump endorsed O’Reilly and said that O’Reilly did nothing wrong. This being such a huge scandal for Fox News, it was believed that it will have a huge effect on the financial standing for the channel, but The Wall Street said that it will not affect the channel in the long run.
Since 2002, O’Reilly and his employer paid over $13 million to five women, who accused him of sexual harassment, to not take the issue to a judge. O’Reilly declared that he is “vulnerable to lawsuit”. During 2016, multiple people accused of sexual harassment were fired from Fox News, two of them being the TV producer Roger Ailes, and the executive Francisco Cortes, who paid more than $2.5 million to the accuser to settle the dispute. Francisco Cortes was fired, and Fox News declared that the company does not tolerate that kind of behavior. After the Francisco Cortes scandal, two women came forward and made accusations against O’Reilly. One of those two declared that she received phone calls from Mr. O’Reilly in which it sounded like he was masturbating.
5. Financial Impact
The O’Reilly sexual harassment scandal already cost Fox News, and himself $13 million. O’Reilly’s leave will also cost 21st Century Fox about $25 million or a one year of pay toward him. O’Reilly was the top paid host, earning $15 million every year, and bringing a revenue of over $110 million in 2016.
More than 50 companies pulled out their adverts from the “O’Reilly Factor” show, which from 2014 to 2016 generated $446 million. But scandal did not affect the Fox News stock. According to CNN the stock is up by more than 15% this year. Earnings and revenue also rose in the first quarter by about 6-7%.