The Firing of Bill O’Reilly

Fox News fired its most popular host, Bill O’Reilly, this week. The firing came after The New York Times reported details of more than $13 million paid to women who worked on or appeared on O’Reilly’s show. The women had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment. O’Reilly at first “denied the claims have merit,” but Fox apparently concluded otherwise.

It must have been a difficult conclusion at which to arrive. O’Reilly has been a ratings and economic juggernaut for Fox. He attracts about 4 million viewers, and in 2015 the program generated about $178 million in advertising revenue.

I do not want to put O’Reilly on trial here, but it is fair to say that Fox would not have made this decision unless the evidence was compelling. A statement released by Fox read, in part, “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”

O’Reilly’s fans are attempting to paint him as a victim of a politically correct environment. Ed Martin, president of Eagle Forum, the organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, wrote: “O’Reilly is a folk hero to the regular folks in America who know the truth.”

I have a different perspective. I commend Fox for making a courageous decision that will no doubt cost it millions of dollars in the short term. What is sad is that a man many people saw as an effective spokesman for their values has been rendered impotent because of his character.

This story is not a new one, of course. Moses, David, and Samson are just three of many powerfully gifted men whose character flaws kept them from being and doing all that God intended for them. More recently, Roger Ailes and Michael Flynn have likewise risen because of their competence and fallen because of their character. Young media celebrities such as Tomi Lahren and Milo Yiannopoulos have flamed out in spectacular fashion.

But National Review columnist David French has pointed out that the rises and falls of these conservative celebrities may be as much our fault as theirs. French writes that we have created a “toxic culture of conservative celebrity” in which we value not the character of our leaders, but rather their ability to inflict wounds on our political enemies. “Knifework, not character or integrity, is what we demand from our ideological gladiators,” French writes. “We’re paying the price.”

Lessons from the O’Reilly Episode

So what can we learn from the O’Reilly episode? Here are a few possible lessons:

First, we should demand character, not merely competence, from our political leaders and cultural spokesmen. Those who oppose conservative and Christian ideas will seize any opportunity to discredit the message by attacking the messenger. We should be careful about whom we look to as spokespeople.

Secondly, let’s remember that “conservative” does not always equal “Christian.” We live in an era in which the culture is trending away from Christian ideas and toward secularism. So conserving what came before often — not always, but often — means conserving Christian ideas. But when and where that is not the case, we should be careful to promote Christian ideals and not merely conservative ideology.

Thirdly, we should remember that the ends do not justify the means. The Christian worldview is true, but it is not merely true. It is also good and beautiful. If we resort to the ugly, the evil, and the banal in our public discourse and private lives, we undermine the truth of the story we want the world to hear.

Finally, let’s not depend so much on our media stars to do the heavy lifting of cultural change. Here at the Colson Center we talk often about “de-professionalizing” the work of the Gospel, including the work of cultural change. By that we mean that raising our kids means more than just sending them to the right youth group. And cultural engagement means more than following a media celebrity on Facebook or retweeting a clever meme.

I often speak to young people who are burning with enthusiasm to “make a difference” in the world. My counsel to them is usually “If you want to change the world, first make your bed.” We should remember that the best evidence for the transformative power of the Gospel is the testimony of our own transformed lives. Christians should live differently if we want our ideas to have credibility in the public square.

To conclude: I cannot say with certainty whether Bill O’Reilly is guilty or innocent of the sexual harassment charges, but the evidence we do have, and his spectacular fall from public favor, should lead to a teachable moment for the conservative movement and Christians in particular. We should take a good, long, hard look in the cultural mirror and remember Shakespeare’s words: “The fault . . . is not in our [media] stars, but in ourselves.” (For more from the author of “The Firing of Bill O’Reilly” please click HERE)

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Bill O’Reilly out at Fox News Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Bill O’Reilly is leaving the Fox News Channel, the network’s parent company announced today.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement.

The star host has been dogged by misconduct claims — some sexual in nature — since an April 1 story in The New York Times detailed alleged settlements made between the host and five women who accused him of harassment and sexual misconduct.

An internal 21st Century Fox memo obtained by ABC News said that the “decision follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel.” The memo was signed by Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch, the company’s top executives.

“We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect,” the memo concluded. (Read more from “Bill O’Reilly out at Fox News Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations” HERE)

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Fox News Anchor Comes out of Closet as ‘Gay’

After years of broadcasting on the most popular cable-news channel in the nation, Shepard Smith of the Fox News Channel is now reportedly revealing that he is homosexual, joining the likes of other “gay” journalists who have come out of the closet, including Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon of CNN as well as Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Smith went public with his homosexuality and defended former network CEO Roger Ailes’ treatment of him, saying Ailes never made homophobic remarks in his presence.

“He treated me with respect, just respect,” Smith said. “I wasn’t new in the business when I came here – I’d been doing reporting for 12 years – but I wasn’t old in it either, and he gave me every opportunity in the world and he never asked anything of me but that we get it right, try to get it right every day. It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place.”

Ailes himself stepped down from Fox News in July in the wake of sexual harassment claims against him by former host Gretchen Carlson.

Smith defended Ailes from claims the news boss had stopped him from coming out publicly during his tenure at Fox. (Read more from “Fox News Anchor Comes out of Closet as ‘Gay'” HERE)

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Fox News Hit With Lawsuit: Network ‘Sex-Fueled, Playboy Mansion-Like Cult’

Former anchor Andrea Tantaros has filed a lawsuit against Fox News Channel, asserting retaliation for lodging sexual harassment claims against former chairman Roger Ailes, The New York Times reported.

The Tantaros lawsuit, filed in Manhattan state Supreme Court Monday, also claims she was harassed by other executives at the network . . .

“Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny,” the Times quoted Tantaros’ lawsuit . . .

According to published reports, some two dozen Fox News staff have since claimed harassment issues, including star host Megyn Kelly . . .

Tantaros says she complained that another Fox executive, Irena Briganti, had been attacking her. Tantaros lawsuit asserts that [Bill] Shine “told Tantaros that Briganti is like a rabid dog on a chain that we can’t control. Sometimes that dog gets off the chain.” (Read more from “Fox News Hit With Lawsuit: Network ‘Sex-Fueled, Playboy Mansion-Like Cult'” HERE)

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WATCH What Happens to Fox News Reporter When He Stands Right in the Middle of Democrat Protesters Mob

DNC protesters repeatedly chanted obscenities at Fox News Channel’s Jesse Watters, forcing him to give up his reporting from the scene and walk away.

The video posted by Raw Story on its Facebook page Tuesday afternoon shows Watters at Philadelphia’s City Hall, site of some of the largest protests over the Democratic National Committee’s treatment of Bernie Sanders, as revealed by recently released hacked emails.

Watters can be seen trying to conduct an interview among hundreds of protesters, when many began chanting, “F— Fox News, F— Fox News…”

As the Fox News personality, who is a Philadelphia native, began to walk away, a new chant begins, “KKK Fox News…KKK Fox News….”

As reported by Western Journalism, Fox News has been on the receiving end of several insults and obscene gestures recently.

Earlier this month, two men passing by flashed their middle finger at the camera while Fox News senior political correspondent Carl Cameron was doing a live shot in front of Trump Tower in New York.

The act came one day after comedian D.L. Hughley appeared on The Kelly File and stated, “The only place racism doesn’t exist is Fox News and the police department. That’s absolutely true.”

“That’s insulting,” host Megyn Kelly responded. “You just insulted millions of people watching this channel.”

“And I’m insulted by the things I hear on this network, so we’re even,” Hughley fired back. “I could care less about insulting people that insult me on a daily basis.”

That same second week of July, Black Lives Matter protesters surrounded a Fox News reporter in Minnesota, with some yelling at him to “get the f— out of here” and one threatening to “knock his a– out.”

A woman nearby joined in: “Shut the f— up! The press is just as bad as the police!”

Another woman at that event also accused the Fox correspondent of being racist and siding with the police. “That’s who you are working with!” she said, adding, “He is part of the white supremacy. You are a disgrace to journalism! You are a white supremacist!” (For more from the author of “WATCH What Happens to Fox News Reporter When He Stand Right in the Middle of Democrat Protesters Mob” please click HERE)

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Fox Makes Its Official Announcement About the Future of Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes, who built Fox News from the ground up to be a powerful force in cable TV news, has stepped down as CEO of Fox News amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Late Thursday afternoon, Fox issued a statement saying Ailes would be departing “immediately.”

The statement did not discuss the allegations against him, which were first made public by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson in a sexual harassment lawsuit she filed against Ailes and the network. Although Ailes was defended by many top-name staffers, several others complained anonymously that Carlson was right in her claims. After 21st Century Fox, the parent of Fox News, investigated the charges, Fox host Megyn Kelly reportedly disclosed that she also had been harassed once by Ailes.

The statement by Fox announcing Ailes’ departure said that Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, will serve as chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. In the statement, Murdoch lavished praise on Ailes.

“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country. Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years,” Murdoch said.

“His grasp of policy and his ability to make profoundly important issues accessible to a broader audience stand in stark contrast to the self-serving elitism that characterizes far too much of the media,” Murdoch also said.

“I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice. Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country,” he added in the statement.

The only reference to the charges wafting about Ailes came in comments attributed to Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox’s executive chairman and CEO respectively. They said, “… we continue our commitment to maintaining a work environment based on trust and respect. We take seriously our responsibility to uphold these traditional, long-standing values of our company.”

A letter from Ailes to Murdoch has also been made public, which reads, in part, “Having spent 20 years building this historic business, I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business continue to lead our industry. I am confident that everyone at Fox News and Fox Business will continue as the standard setters that they are, and that the businesses are well positioned for even greater success in the future.” (For more from the author of “Fox Makes Its Official Announcement About the Future of Roger Ailes” please click HERE)

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Ailes Bails — Exits Fox News in Wake of Sexual Harassment Allegations

Fox News titan Roger Ailes will be leaving the network he helped build in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, his lawyer confirmed Tuesday to The New York Times. His lawyer, feminist hero Susan Estrich, said that he may keep a position with Fox Network as a consultant. The Times described his being forced out as “a humbling and startlingly swift fall from power.”

Ailes’ troubles began when long-time Fox star Gretchen Carlson sued him, claiming that she was fired after she refused his advances. Ailes denied it, calling it “a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract.” Other women at the network came forward with similar stories. It was not the first time Ailes had been accused of sexual harrassment, his biographer Gabriel Sherman said. “Taken together, these stories portray Ailes as a boss who spoke openly of expecting women to perform sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities.”

“Ailes is known for having a bawdy, politically incorrect sense of humor,” CNN Money reported when she began the suit. “But Carlson’s lawsuit alleges that he went much further with her. It alleges that Ailes repeatedly ‘injected sexual and/or sexist comments’ into conversations; made ‘sexual advances by various means’; and said to her last September, ‘I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better.’”

At that time, the Murdochs said in an official statement, “While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy [a Fox News host Carlson also accused], who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter.”

Reports that Ailes was going to be shown the door surfaced Monday in New York Magazine. The magazine reported that owners Rupert Murdoch and his two sons had agreed to force out Ailes and were waiting till after the Republican convention. It also reported that the law firm investigating the charges is “looking into the appropriateness of Ailes’s pressuring employees to speak out on his behalf, against his accusers,” including a Business Insider article by Fox senior vice-president Neil Cavuto.

Megyn Kelly Too

And today, another bombshell: The Kelly File host Megyn Kelly testified that she, too, had been harassed, says New York Magazine writer Gabriel Sherman. He quotes two sources briefed on Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox’s outside investigation of Ailes’ alleged behavior as saying that “Kelly told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances towards her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox.” She reportedly described the harassment in detail.

Kelly’s involvement raised the stakes for Ailes and will have increased the pressure on the Murdochs to let him go. She’s become a media superstar after her debate battles with Donald Trump, the brightest presence in their prime time lineup, and the clock is ticking on her contract. Rumors are reportedly circulating that Bill O’Reilly is thinking of retiring, making Fox News even more desperate to hold onto Kelly. She is, they say, “the future of the network.”

Kelly’s silence in the wake of Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes had already drawn plenty of discussion. Now that she’s become something of a feminist icon in the wake of her battles with Trump, why didn’t she speak up in Carlson’s defense? On the other hand, Ailes has certainly helped make her a media superstar, why didn’t she join other Fox News personalities in rushing to his defense?

On Tuesday, Breitbart claimed that an inside source said, “Everyone here hates Gretchen and Megyn” and that “hosts from Fox and Friends and throughout the primetime lineup from the co-hosts of The Five to Special Report’s Bret Baier to Greta Van Susteren to Bill O’Reilly, Shepard Smith and Sean Hannity are planning to band together and potentially execute contract clauses that allow them to leave if Ailes is driven out.”

As for the report that the decision has already been made to give Ailes the boot: “This matter is not yet resolved and the review is not concluded,” the Murdochs’ official statement said. (For more from the author of “Ailes Bails — Exits Fox News in Wake of Sexual Harassment Allegations” please click HERE)

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Fox News Sex Scandal Blows up BIG TIME

The three Murdoch family members at the top of 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, are in agreement that Roger Ailes, the company chief who has been hit with sex harassment claims, should go, a report says.

New York Magazine on Monday reported Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairmen of the company, and James Murdoch, CEO, are working out how to remove the 76-year-old, according to two sources.

A New York law firm was tasked by the organization with investigating the claims against Ailes, and “after reviewing the initial findings … James Murdoch is said to be arguing that Ailes should be presented with a choice this week to resign or face being fired.”

The report said the other two want to wait until the GOP convention in Cleveland is over this week, the report said.

The magazine report said the investigation was sparked by former news anchor Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit against Ailes, but has since been expanded. (Read more from “Fox News Sex Scandal Blows up BIG TIME” HERE)

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Fox News Sets Another Record and Personal Milestone

Fox News Channel has achieved historic ratings once again. The news network already has the top three news shows on television, The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and The Kelly File. Once again, the FNC topped the charts, ranking as number one this month in total day viewership among all cable networks. According to a Fox News Press release, “FOX News Channel topped basic cable in total day for the month of May, according to Nielsen Media Research.”

It was also the third time in 2016 that Fox has been ranked as number one, setting a milestone for the company as the first time it has achieved first place for three consecutive months in the calendar year. Even though FNC came in first place overall, the network still ranked 3rd behind NBA playoff dominated TNT and ESPN during the prime-time hours of viewing.

“FNC is the only cable news channel that is up in all measurements — up year-to-year as well as month-to-month. May also marks the network’s 173rd month as the as the most-watched cable news channel,” the company stated. If the trend continues through the end of 2016, FNC will have dominated the airwaves as the “most-watched cable news channel” for 15 years straight.

The channel’s dominance is due in part to its top five programs (showing total viewers for May): “The O’Reilly Factor (3,019,000);The Kelly File (2,500,000); Hannity (2,078,000); Special Report w/ Bret Baier (1,960,000); The Five (1,898,000).”

According to the Nielson ratings, Fox News is crushing the competition. The press release maintains, “In total day, FNC is up 19% in total viewers with 1,165,000, besting both CNN and MSNBC combined, and up 11% in the 25-54 demo with 216,000, again surpassing both CNN and MSNBC. Additionally, FNC is up in total day compared to last month (+6% in P2+; +1% in 25-54) while CNN and MSNBC are down in both measurements.”

A big part of Fox News’ May ratings success was its dominance in the 25-54 demographic. The O’Reilly Factor led the way with 492,000 average viewers in the key demo, while Hannity followed closely with 460,000. (For more from the author of “Fox News Sets Another Record and Personal Milestone” please click HERE)

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Fox News Just Made One of the Biggest Announcements of Its 20-Year History

Presidential primaries, by nature, provide an opportunity for news outlets to gain a ratings boost. For the perennial cable news leader, however, the first three months of 2016 shattered all of its previous records.

Fox News Channel has consistently led rivals CNN and MSNBC in the ratings, though recent reports indicate the network was the most popular of all cable networks during the first quarter of the year. The trend held up, whether comparing prime-time ratings or all-day viewers.

Furthermore, the cable network maintained a lead over all others in the 25-54 age range — the demographic long seen as the most attractive to advertisers.

Though the record itself might be cause for celebration, many of the popular Fox News Channel programs also got some individual recognition. Of the top 10 cable news shows airing during the quarter, only one did not air on Fox News . . .

MSNBC and CNN have also seen marked increases in viewership throughout the primary season. In fact, both networks grew their audiences by a bigger percentage than Fox News Channel. While Fox added 30 percent to its viewership numbers, CNN and MSNBC increased theirs by 48 and 54 percent, respectively. It was not enough, however, to put a dent in the cable news powerhouse. (Read more from “Fox News Just Made One of the Biggest Announcements of Its 20-Year History” HERE)

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