Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.
On April 19, Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News after being accused of sexual harassment. It was revealed that five women had received payouts from O’Reilly and Fox totaling about $13 million in exchange for agreeing to not pursue legal action. I am thrilled O’Reilly was fired because of this. It shows America’s progress in regard to harassment and those in power.
Back in 2004, Andrea Mackris accused Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment and filed a lawsuit. Fox fired back, eventually both sides settled, and Mackris was paid millions of dollars. Though ultimately, O’Reilly’s reputation was essentially left unaffected even though Mackris had recorded evidence of O’Reilly describing his sexual fantasies to her over the phone while masturbating.
In 2017, evidence of O’Reilly’s sexual harassment did not go unnoticed. Once The New York Times published the revelation about the $13 million payout, O’Reilly was doomed. Within days, advertisers pulled out of The O’Reilly Factor, and by his final show he only had 10 advertisers, as apposed to the 30 he had a month before. Fox had no choice but to cancel his show.
O’Reilly being fired shows how far America has come in regards to justice against those in power. I am delighted with Fox’s choice to fire O’Reilly, because it shows that they are willing to fight against this type of injustice. Once upon a time, O’Reilly was the most watched man on cable TV. Now, he is out of the job. This improvement shows that America is moving toward higher standards for celebrities, and holding them accountable. It is also showing victims of sexual assault, or any assault in general, that they do have the power to bring justice to their assailant.
However, I understand America has a long way to go in regard to holding celebrities accountable for their actions. We elected a president who has similar accusations against him. Voters knew Trump had been accused countless times of sexual harassment, yet America still put him in charge. By electing President Trump, people have shown that they value a certain level of celebrity status over bringing justice for the victims of assault.
Even in Fort Collins, we have a long way to go. Gian Clavell, a basketball player at Colorado State University, was accused of domestic violence. The Collegian wrote a piece about his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Bess, and the domestic abuse case. Clavell was barely punished, only paying a $750 bond and suspended from the basketball team for nine games. Though it wasn’t a sexual crime, it still shows that America values celebrity status over justice.
America has a long way to go, but O’Reilly being fired is the first step toward bringing justice for those who have been victims of being sexually assaulted by celebrities and people in power.
Leta McWilliams can be reached at email@example.com and online at @LetaMcWilliams