By now, most people have probably heard of the allegations against TV personality and political pundit Bill O’Reilly. He has allegedly paid at least five women out of court settlements for their silence regarding misogynistic and sexist behavior that he aimed at them. Whether or not you believe the allegations, the affect of them is nearly the same. Fox News has held a long-standing culture of treating women poorly that started with Roger Ailes more than 20 years ago. Ailes was removed from his position for nearly the same type of allegations, but it is unclear whether O’Reilly will suffer the same fate.
There seems to be a vein of the patriarchy that is still trying desperately to hold onto its delicate male persona, and that strain seems to be quite active in the conservative world. Only recently, famed conservative mouthpiece Tomi Lahren was put on indefinite suspension from her Fox segment after making comments about her support of abortion rights during another show in which she was being interviewed. Lahren is now suing Glenn Beck and The Blaze for wrongful termination, and she even claims that the studio has locked her out of her own social media profiles.
There is almost no doubt that the decision to suspend Lahren came directly from Beck himself since he is both the face and leader of the organization. That response from Beck to a woman sharing her honest beliefs is just another in a long line of examples showcasing the desire for highly-visible male figures in the conservative news spectrum to control not only the narrative coming from every individual correspondent, but to control the views of women over whom they feel superior.
Bill O’Reilly has such a vitriolic personality that easily bleeds through his segments that it should come as no surprise that the man has been accused of sexual misconduct. That same personality type can be seen in many other male conservative pundits, including Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones. That fiery male persona might seem like an entertaining source for news, but it showcases a deeper issue with conservative pundits. They all have this approach that essentially demands the public’s acquiescence to their incendiary comments while simultaneously condescending toward and largely ignoring any arguments against what they have to say.
According to David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun, Bill O’Reilly has taken the place of Roger Ailes as the face of the predatory culture that permeates Fox News and the majority of the FOX network. He claims that O’Reilly is nothing more than the representative of the cancer that is currently spreading through the conservative spectrum, and that such a culture will and should be the death of the network.
How can a network that marginalizes women to such an extreme survive when all the women leave the network for safer and more accepting positions in other networks? Not only that, but how can a source of supposedly unbiased news remain relevant once it gains a reputation for sexism, misogyny, and manipulation? The answer is that it can not, and without some sort of change throughout the Fox network, there is no way they will continue to be relevant in a world where men and women are actually equal.
Zurawik also points out that a network like Fox won’t be able to survive if all their advertisers decide to pull out because they don’t agree with the views and actions of the network. He doesn’t expect anything to happen in the short-term with O’Reilly since the figure is too important for the Fox network, but something must be done soon if the cancer is to be exorcised in time.