my quickly advancing age, I’ve learned three things about the
Devil. He doesn’t always wear horns, so sometimes he’s
hard to recognize. Second, the devil isn’t always a he
(I’ll re-visit that point). Third, the devil may be
personified as an individual but can be embodied in institutions
(possibly as a collection of imps). April 19, 2017 was a day of joy
that many of we justice, fairness and equality-loving folks didn’t
get to speak about but did celebrate.
April 19, Fox News cut the cord on Bill O’ Reilly, the
network’s most celebrated television host and celebrity. Of
course, true to form, he ran overtly counter to his signature motto,
“No Spin,” and like the so-called President Donald Trump,
began the spin. Bill O’Reilly called the claims that resulted
in his departure from Fox News “unfounded” and wished the
network the best in a statement immediately after the announcement of
said they were dropping O’Reilly from the network after two
decades following a series (that’s right, like
Bill Cosby, several) of allegations about sexual harassment and the
report earlier this month that Fox had paid five women over $13
million to keep quiet about allegations of inappropriate behavior
from the adversarial gold machine. “The O’Reilly Factor”
had been consistently documented as the highest-rated show on cable
news, but lost more than 50 advertisers following pressure from
activist groups, led initially by current President of Media Matters
(Conservative-minded folks attribute the successful
activism that resulted in O’Reilly’s downfall to
left-wing groups with an agenda, yet they fail to see their gun
rights, anti-choice and “Blue Lives Matter” supporters as
activists. Are they hypocrites, willfully ignorant or just plain
ignorant? Carusone’s efforts began with launching a Twitter
campaign (@StopBeck) that successfully booted Glenn Beck off the
News CEO Roger Ailes resigned last summer over allegations of sexual
harassment from women at the network, including former anchors
Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly. No wonder O’Reilly was given
carte blanche leeway to behave so reprehensibly.
the sake of women—and for the sake of justice—I am
celebrating O’ Reilly’s departure, but just know that
getting rid of this devil isn’t a win for women. It is
a win for America. Nothing stops future top-rated talk show hosts
from sexually degrading women. Fox did a grandiose job at sweeping
under the rug the sexual misconduct committed by its coveted white
males—for years! When women attempted to complain, resisted or
spoke out, they were viciously retaliated against. It reminds me of
the way each time a failure of the so-called President is exposed, he
attacks the media—the messenger—for bringing the
message. It’s a clumsy, obvious ploy to divert our attention
from a message of importance. It’s currently working for Trump
the way it, for so long, worked for Fox News.
was a “culture” problem at Fox News that some are saying
the parent company didn’t know about. It’s clear that
millions of dollars in settlements were paid out. There’s no
way in hell you or I can reasonably believe that missing millions of
dollars wouldn’t disturb a parent! No matter how much money
20th Century Fox makes, they pay attention to what’s
lost (including the reported $25 million O’Reilly walks away
with after renewing his contract last month).
us not ignore the fact that the Fox dress code of high-heels, lots of
make-up, tight dresses and the like, all steeped in the “culture”
of sexism and women as sexual objects, has not been fully addressed.
Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment has been
addressed—only because of lost revenue, not because of
ethics—but the network is still playing defense. The
settlements were what turned out to be vain attempts to keep the
harassment quiet. And if you really acutely analyze the whole
episode, this settlement stuff wasn’t exposed until the three
Black women complained about their harassment within the O’Reilly
really strange in this equation is that O’Reilly’s
popularity of opposing feminism, racist innuendos and mean-spirited
attacks all embraced by the climate of disrespect—deeply held
character traits of the millions who called themselves
“Conservatives.” Anyone who opposed these character
traits were stamped pejoratively as “Liberals.” We all
should have been up in arms when the Fox News network of surrogates
began framing respect as a bad thing. This is the same tact
used in attacking “Political Correctness.” Shaming
anyone who demands respect was pejoratively labeled as “PC.”
hard to feel vindicated though, knowing there are other devils within
the Fox News family who are still getting a pass. I just shudder to
think of all of the likely suffering victims there are at the
hundreds of Fox affiliates across the country. I am also of the mind
that we shouldn’t let the advertisers—supporters of
O’Reilly—off the hook. O’Reilly generated over
$150 million in ad revenue for Fox News in 2016—one-third of
its total ad income! If advertisers weren’t aware of the O’
Reilly pay-offs before, once news of the pay-offs became public, the
corporations chose a “wait-and-see” posture for more than
a few days—in fact, many simply shifted dollars to other Fox
programs! Those who stuck by O’Reilly eventually withdrew their
ad dollars too.
more depressing for me is that, O’ Reilly got dumped for the
offenses against women, but not for his Black offenses.
People will argue that sexual harassment is a crime and racial
harassment is not. That’s true, but there ought to be!
“James Brown wig” attack on Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) in
early April only confirmed for us genuinely Black folk that O’Reilly
was a skilled and consistent racist. His rants about Blacks with
tattoos on their faces and his ability excite the nostalgic “Take
My Country Back” crowd, only solidified his status as a
mouthpiece for the angry, American white male who believes that
“white privilege” is a birthright. That belief escalated
during the era of President Barack Obama, and has reached a crescendo
under so-called President Trump. O’Reilly could excite his
supporters to action much like Trump currently does. Yet unlike
Trump, O’Reilly veiled comments made him much more palatable.
was genius for Change.org to place ads on job recruitment sites.
That is the kind of creative organizing I admire. It’s targeted
against a hostile, anti-American and even demonic force. I only hope
more women—in particular, Conservative women—come
forward. Sadly, too many women are proud of their votes for Trump.
It’s insane. And just the same, there are comparable numbers
of women who are just as proud that they subscribed to Bill O’
Reilly’s brand of sexism, racism, misogyny and disrespect. Yup,
of those supporters, our work continues. Additionally, the fight for
Black respect goes on. Just recently, a Florida state senator
apologized for using a racial slur and vulgar insults during a
private after-hours conversation with two Black colleagues...yes,
authority figures! Republican Sen. Frank Artiles gave the
three-minute apology on the Senate floor as the chamber began its
business for the day.
extend a heartfelt apology to my colleagues and to all of those I
have offended," said Artiles, a Cuban-American from the Miami
area. "My harsh words have adversely reflected more on me than
they could ever have on anyone else." It’s obvious, since
Artiles had been “Americanized,” he believes that he is
white. What he fails to understand is that, to the whites of this
country, he’ll never be white enough.
used a variation of the "n-word" at Tallahassee's members
only Governors Club with Democratic Sens. Gibson and Perry
Thurston. He also cursed at Gibson, calling her a vulgar name, and
referred to Senate President Joe Negron using a vulgar term. In an
odd twist to this story, just before the apology, Negron replaced
Artiles as chairman of the Communications, Energy and Public
said he was particularly sorry for the words he hurled at Gibson of
Jacksonville because they were personal.
you believe like I do that the apology came because he got caught!
"I am so sorry for the words and tone I used with you,"
Artiles said. "There is no excuse, nor will I offer one. My
comments to you are the most regretful of all because they injured
sexual harassment, I’d like to see civil penalties attached to
such heinous acts of disrespect. And, Black folks don’t help
when they publicly invoke sentiments about our inherent “forgiving
nature.” This was displayed in Gibson response to being
disrespected, "There is a firestorm and it's an unfortunate
circumstance. It's a situation I hope never happens again…There
should be no grudges and reason to talk terribly to or about anyone,"
she added. "I'm ready to move past it so we can do the work."
the other hand, Thurston said the apology wasn't enough. "Too
little, too late," said Thurston, whose district includes parts
of Fort Lauderdale. "It's hard to put it back. And she (Gibson)
said it herself this morning, words have consequences." We
could only wish…Artiles said afterward that he doesn't plan to
resign. Afterwards The Miami Herald reported that Artiles told
Gibson and Perry that Negron rose to power because "six n------"
in the Republican caucus elected him. The two senators told the
Herald that Artiles later said he'd used the word "niggas,"
suggesting the slang word wasn't intended to be insulting.
thus, for continued assaults against Blacks such as this, it’s
impossible to celebrate O’Reilly’s ouster. He represents
an individual devil that got his due. Now, how do we
collectively bring down the millions more individuals—and more
salient, their institutions? The struggle continues.