Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s firing is especially good news, given that it came as the result of journalism done by one of his enemies.
Emily Steel is one of two journalists at the New York Times who reported on the sexual harassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly by Fox News employees, and her reporting is largely credited with bringing enough national attention to the situation that led the conservative pundit’s advertisers to drop their marketing from his program and eventually oust him from the network.
“[S]exual harassment is against the law,” Steel said in a CNN panel discussion earlier this month. “You are not supposed to treat women like this in the work force. And whether these are allegations, whether they are believed or not, this is an important issue and women deserve to be treated with respect in the workplace.”
Steel, who serves as a media reporter for the Times, was threatened by O’Reilly in 2015 after she reported on a Mother Jones investigation challenging his claims to have reported in an active war zone. In the 2001 book The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America, the talk show host cited his experience reporting for CBS on the aftermath of the Falklands conflict in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
However, O’Reilly — in a similar manner to NBC’s Brian Williams — seemed to have muddied the lines about his war reporting in his book, falsely characterizing Buenos Aires, which is roughly 1,200 miles from the Falkland Islands, as a war zone merely because there were tanks in the streets.
As Steel wrote at the time, O’Reilly was sensitive about the national paper of record reporting on the allegations that he overemphasized the situation in Argentina. O’Reilly told Steele he was “coming after you with everything I have,” adding, “You can take it as a threat.”
“I am coming after you with everything I have,” Mr. O’Reilly told me. “You can take it as a threat.” http://t.co/gXsH3Zqaig
— Emily Steel (@emilysteel) February 24, 2015
This week, The O’Reilly Factor was dropped by Fox News, and the host’s contract with 21st Century Fox was cancelled. While dozens of advertisers dropped the show, the only major voice to come to O’Reilly’s defense has been that of President Donald Trump. In an interview with the New York Times in the midst of the news that O’Reilly had paid $13 million to five women as part of a sexual harassment settlement, the President of the United States — who himself has been accused of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women — said the conservative pundit did nothing wrong.
“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person. I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled,” said Trump, who settled a lawsuit against him filed by Trump University students who accused the president of fraud. “Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.