Sexual harassment has been an inescapable problem for women over the past three decades and affects women’s psychological and physical health as well as their social and economic status.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly had several sexual harassment complaints lodged against him for over a decade. Women have publicly told stories of O’Reilly’s misconduct, including former producer Andrea Mackris who filed a lawsuit accusing him of harassing her with sexually explicit phone calls, instructing Andrea to buy a vibrator, calling her while apparently masturbating and engaging in one-sided phone sex entailing loofas – some of which Ms. Mackris said she recorded.
The case later settled without a trial or much public insight into what actually happened. Fast forward O’Reilly is still Fox News prime-time host making tens of millions of dollars.
However, he’s in a more precarious place now. In the past week, at least 52 advertisers have pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s program, including Advil, Mercedes-Benz and Jenny Craig.
A news report in The New York Times exposed a number of payments made in secret to other women accusing the host of sexual harassment over the years. Nothing has substantively changed since the details of Ms. Mackris’s treatment were exposed in her lawsuit. But now the public is privy to other women who say they suffered the same abuse, and aware of the backdoor deals that were struck to keep them quiet.
That did not stop him, O’Reilly followed this same pattern over the years. According to The Times, at least five women have received payments from either him or Fox that together total about $13 million, most of which were never previously made public. Many of the payments have come with agreements that the women won’t speak about what happened to them.