Culture May 1, 2017
Be mad at Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, sure. But throw some anger over at these companies, too.
Bill Shine is out as Fox News Co-President amid concern over sexual harassment and racial discrimination allegations. But Shine’s departure is only the latest in a long list of Fox men who have been accused of sexual harassment, leading many to believe Fox itself should bear some of the blame for its culture of misogyny.
First there was Roger Ailes. Then came the Bill O’Reilly bombshell in which Fox News’ beloved, number one moneymaker was ousted for mounting sexual assault allegations. Even Jesse Watters is on a well-timed vacation following a crude oral sex joke about Ivanka Trump.
But the oustings only come when the public puts on the pressure, not because Fox found a moral compass.
“The O’Reilly Factor” was reportedly bleeding money as advertisers began to run for the hills (Though Fox insisted they were not losing money.) And to think, it only took the revelation of about $13 million in settlements to accusers, as well as two additional allegations brought to light recently by the New York Times for the advertisers to lose their faith. What brave, brave champions of women.
Now, it’s clear O’Reilly “will not be returning to Fox News Channel.” Don’t you worry about him, though. He signed a new contract just weeks before the NYT investigation on him was published, ensuring that he’d be leaving with a payout of around $25 million. Which further proves that Fox really didn’t care about the scandal until it became a public scandal.
Not to mention, a giant payday doesn’t exactly feel like a punishment for allegedly assaulting a laundry list of women, now does it?
But not all of the blame for this epidemic against women lies with Fox.
Ahead of O’Reilly’s dismissal, CNN reported that 21 companies had pulled their ads from “The O’Reilly Factor” in the growing backlash. But I think we’re burying the lede here. Because they didn’t pull them Fox News altogether, now did they?
To be fair, one of those 21 companies did. The Society for Human Resource Management told ENTITY that they have “discontinued all advertising on Fox News Network.” Brava. It took you long enough and we’re not totally certain if that has to do with your advertising schedule or your values, but still, we’ll take it.
Unfortunately, another 11 companies did not make so noble a decision. Companies like Mitsubishi, Bayer, Hyundai, BMW and Allstate (which owns Esurance, another of the companies) all responded to inquiries from ENTITY with responses such as “We’re still monitoring the situation and assessing our long-term strategy” and “Kayla, I don’t have any additional information for you on this topic at this time.” AKA, yes, we’re still advertising with Fox News and NO, I do NOT want to talk to you about it, Kayla.
Lexus straight up admitted that they still had advertising running on Fox News, after pulling out of “The O’Reilly Factor.” They offered no explanations as to why O’Reilly’s sexual assault allegations were a concern while those against Ailes were apparently A-okay. They also seemed unbothered by allegations brought up by Gretchen Carlson, and by the fact that there seems to be a culture of concealing sexual assault at Fox News. Lexus apparently has no fucks to be given.
T. Rowe Price gets out on a technicality, since their advertising is apparently seasonal so they’re not running TV spots anywhere right now. That’s not to say they won’t return to Fox News and they certainly didn’t pull ads from the network because they were appalled at how they aid and abet (alleged) sexual abusers.
Orkin and GlaxoSmithKline both tried to emphasize the fact that they had put advertising with “The O’Reilly Factor” “on hold” due to the allegations, but they also both confirmed that their money is still with Fox.
And while all of those are bad, they don’t hold a candle to companies like Ainsworth Pet Nutrition and Mercedes-Benz who thought the best PR move would be to suggest that we just don’t know the “whole story.”
Ainsworth told ENTITY that “when serious allegations exist that impact our advertising, we always try to focus on the facts we have available.” And of course, they “reserve the right to make additional changes in the future as we see fit.” You know where their money is.
But the best has got to be Mercedes-Benz, who told us, “As you point out, all of this is based on allegations and there’s no way to know what the facts are.” Seriously, Donna? Like, I know it’s your job to rep your company but as a woman, that’s the stance you want to take? You couldn’t have just told me to buzz off like Hyundai?
She went on to add, “We reacted because of the importance we place on women as employees, as customers and in every other touchpoint of our business. So we moved our ads away from the controversy, which originated with Bill O’Reilly.” Right, right. Women can tell how important they are to you by you sticking by a news organization that consistently devalues them and appears to be fostering men who have allegedly abused women for years.
Constant Contact, UNTUCKit, Sanofi, Credit Karma, Wayfair, The Wonderful Company, TrueCar and Coldwell Banker ignored our requests for comment – though according to CNN and Fox, have merely reallocated money within the network. So… yes, their money is still with Fox.
If these companies were really worried about the O’Reilly scandal, why aren’t they concerned that the same network housed the likes of Ailes and Bill Shine? If they really want to put an end to such sexual abuse they should hit these guys where it really hurts – their wallets.
Like the #GrabYourWallet campaign, which encourages consumers to boycott everything Trump (and has already knocked 23 companies off of its list since October), advertisers need to avoid Fox News to really make a point.
If we’re ever going to see a real change with sexual harassment, we can’t let it carry on for decades, and then send the (alleged) perpetrator away with a golden parachute of tens of millions of dollars.
So be mad at Bill O’Reilly. Be mad at “The O’Reilly Factor,” at Fox News and at all of the execs who made the coverup of the scandal possible for so many years. That’s fine – and warranted. But also get mad at Bayer and Allstate and Orkin. Throw some of that anger over at GlaxoSmithKline, at Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. Sure, it’s a smooth ride, but is it worth your humanity?
They’re going to keep getting away with it as long as we let them. So let’s not.
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