To the Companies Who Withdrew Support From Bill O’Reilly and Fox News, Thank You From the Women of America
This post also appears on Medium. Follow Noreen Farrell’s writings on Medium here.
Over the span of 14 years, five women charged Bill O’Reilly of Fox News with verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and sexually charged phone calls. Despite the charges, and payments of over $13 million to settle them, Bill O’Reilly has continued to enjoy the rank of Fox’s “top asset,” earning over $18 million a year.
Similarly, Fox rewarded its former Chairman Rogers Ailes with a $40 million exit package after sexual harassment charges against him prompted his resignation nine months ago.
While federal and state laws have prohibited sexual harassment in the workplace for over 50 years, none seem to have prompted Fox News to address harassment by its highest paid employees.
But over the past week, something remarkable has happened. In the wake of the New York Times article exposing the O’Reilly complaints, companies that advertise on “The O’Reilly Factor” started to pull their business from the show.
To date, more than 80 companies have notified Fox News that they no longer want their brands associated with O’Reilly’s show. Mercedes Benz, which was the first company to walk away, stated: “The allegations are disturbing and, given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products.” A wave of big companies followed, including Advil, BMW, Carfax, Credit Karma, GEICO, H&R Block, Hulu, Lending Tree, Pfizer, Progressive Insurance, Verizon and Wayfair.
The statements of companies withdrawing support from O’Reilly have been compelling. Jenny Craig emphasized that its company “condemns any and all forms of sexual harassment.” Allstate declared: “Inclusivity and support for women are important Allstate values.” Bayer stated that the company “supports a safe, respectful and non-abusive environment for women.” Hyundai noted: “As a company, we seek to partner with companies and programming that share our values of inclusion and diversity.”
The financial punch of this exodus of O’Reilly advertisers cannot be understated. According to The New York Times, “The O’Reilly Factor” generated more than $446 million in advertising revenue for the network between 2014 and 2016. The advertising money, which gave Bill O’Reilly “top rank” at Fox despite his harassment, is vanishing. By pulling hundreds of millions of dollars from the show, these companies may well have provide Fox News the financial incentive it needs to address sexual harassment that state and federal laws have not.
So, to all of the companies who have pulled advertising dollars from “The O’Reilly Factor,” on behalf of women across the United States:
Thank you for standing up for the rights of women in the workplace.
Thank you for making a strong statement about values shared by most Americans.
Thank you for distancing yourself from a show led by a man who harms women.
Thank you for recognizing the power of women as consumers and viewers, and our value as workers.
We hope that your stand against sexual harassment at Fox News renews your determination to ensure that your own workplaces are free of discrimination and harassment.
It will take women and men working together to end sexual harassment and achieve equality in this country. Fox News is being told loud and clear that diversity, inclusion and respect for women in the workplace are mainstream values, and that saying no to sexual harassment is good business.
Maybe one day Fox News will see the light and agree that it’s also the right thing to do. Until then, please know we are grateful that you took the lead on this fight.
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