Well, it only took a month for Fox to figure out what most others have come to terms with years ago. Today, Fox news cut ties with host Bill O’Reilly, more than two weeks after a New York Times article showed a long history of litigation against the talk-show host accusing him of sexual harassment.
O’Reilly, the host of one of America’s most popular political talk shows, has had a long history of pushing the envelope. From arguing with guests on his show to a near constant attack on the Obama administration, O’Reilly has fed conservative America exactly what they have wanted, often at the expense of being entirely truthful.
What is of note particularly in this situation is the time it took for Fox to come to the decision, and what it means for political activism. Very little has changed in the two weeks following the release of allegations against O’Reilly. In fact, according to the New York Times, the report may not have even been news, as the claim was that Fox supported O’Reilly through his legal troubles. That being said, his firing indicates that either the claims against him had reached a particular critical mass, or that the desire of the American public had finally reached the ears of the all-too-often tone-deaf when it comes to sexual assault and sexism.
With characters like Bill O’Reilly and even Donald Trump piling up with a long history of sexist, degrading behavior (if not actually assaulting), the political right has had to find an answer to the moral question: how can we support or buy into the things these people say when their behavior is so detestable? This is a huge opportunity for Fox News to move in a direction of more respectable personalities, with the hopes of getting rid of the distractions that take away from the political opinions.
As someone who has never been a fan of Fox News, O’Reilly’s show has always been of particular concern to me, as it puts a morally bankrupt individual in control of spinning political realities for a public that needs to be given the information with a particular skew. The general public has hopefully learned through this situation that we are in a position to demand characters who will give us our news without the ethical issues that we have come to expect.
With the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Tomi Lahren both losing their jobs within weeks of one another, the faces of conservative television are changing. Whether they move forward or backward is still very much to be seen, but now is the time for the public to flex their muscles and demand a certain level of integrity that we haven’t been receiving to this point.