Friday, April 28, 2017

Bill: Sorry I’m Not Sorry

Photo credit: By Justin Hoch, CC BY 2.0,
Bill O’Reilly is gone from Fox, but probably not gone from our public discourse. My reaction is summed up by the title of my favorite Tessa Violet song: “Sorry I’m Not Sorry.”

O’Reilly was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment at the locker room men’s network known as Fox News. And advertisers didn’t like being associated with a tainted Papa Bear, so they pulled the plug.

I am not sorry to see him go. But, with a multi-million-dollar severance payment and plenty of access to the internet, I don’t think he’s really gone. And I think the O’Reilly case has multiple levels to it.

It was simply a business decision for Fox. His firing wasn’t for any of his misconduct, but because advertisers didn’t want to be on his show—and there is a problem there. O’Reilly worked for the cable news network that was founded with an ideological mission. It was part of an alternative media system that isn’t based on reporting news, but rather on promoting a particular world view.

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As Hank the Vlog brother says, it’s cheaper to have nattering heads paid to have different points of view than to engage in serious journalism, and O’Reilly’s huge cable audience was symptomatic of a public shift away from rational, fact-based journalism.

O’Reilly may be gone from Fox. But the alt-right media universe that Fox helped create and that O’Reilly was a star of has morphed into something dangerous, and his being fired doesn’t really change that.

Two commentators that I like and read in my local paper, Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald and Mary Sanchez of the Kansas City Star had interesting columns on O’Reilly’s Fox departure. They have different reactions, although I find myself agreeing with both. Sanchez, I think, makes an important point: the male sense of entitlement that helped create the O’Reilly affair is not gone.

Kudos to Emily Steele of the “New York Times,” whose stories helped bring Bill down. She was threatened by Papa Bear back in 2015 but kept going. We owe her a debt because she didn’t back down.

And we ought to thank her because she is part of the old school news media that actually tries to report the news. Unlike Fox.

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