[OP-ED]: The Sacking of Bill O’Reilly Reveals Ignored Corporate Prejudice
Although the decision by FOX News to sack its ratings superstar Bill O’Reilly in the wake of revelations that FOX paid $13-million to settle multiple sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly sparked cheers in some circles, circumstances surrounding O’Reilly’s ouster do not merit a champagne celebration.
The termination of that talk show host known for his blunt talk (and his bigotry) followed a mass exodus of over fifty major advertisers from the evening time slot occupied by “The O’Reilly Factor” program.
Advertisers reportedly poured $446-million in ad revenue into O’Reilly’s program just between 2014 and 2016.
O’Reilly vigorously denies the harassment claims against him. And, O’Reilly has powerful backers like President Trump who proclaimed his friend O’Reilly did nothing “wrong.”
Overlooked in that advertiser exodus that seemingly evidences enhanced corporate intolerance for sexual harassment is a dark side that undermines equality and equity across the spectrum of American society.
Companies from Bristol Myers Squibb to Mercedes Benz that bought into O’Reilly’s program to access his huge audience had willingly banked on the overt bigotry that radiated from O’Reilly and other FOX News personalities in hopes of boosting bottom line profits.
With due respect to the importance of Free Press/Free Speech rights, O’Reilly irresponsibly reveled in a brand of classic racially inflammatory rhetoric which feeds the misunderstandings that underpin prejudice.
O’Reilly, for example, played a major role in fomenting anti-immigrant hysteria according to a report released nearly a decade ago. That report detailed how O’Reilly dedicated 66 episodes in 2007 to castigating Hispanic immigrants as criminals and eight episodes falsely claiming undocumented immigrants drain Social Security funds.
A no-spin-zone-fact is the reality that the persistence of race prejudice across America is not purely the product of abhorrent acts from recalcitrant individuals.
The prejudice that impedes fulfillment of America’s pledged equality persists through institutions, like corporate advertisers, whose financial aiding-&-abetting facilitates platforms that fan prejudice like FOX News.
A Pew research poll released last year stated a majority of Latino people in America said they had experienced discrimination and felt that race relations in the U.S. are generally “bad.” The societal conditions that drive the discrimination registered in that Pew poll are aggravated by the animosities inflamed by rhetoric spewing from FOX and other far-right media.
Many of the major corporations that funded “The O’Reilly Factor” for years never exhibited equity through major ad revenue spending with the National Association of Hispanic Publishers.
Ethnic media reaches millions of potential customers nationwide. Further, ethnic media entities seek to counter the embedded prejudice soiling America through their coverage presenting news and views ignored by mainstream media.
The ability of ethnic media to fulfill its constitutional mission to inform the public and serve as watchdogs on power is crippled by corporations that exclude ethnic media from their advertising expenditures.
Prejudice will persist until companies, now seemingly opposed to even allegations of sexual harassment, adopt zero-tolerance stances against bigotry in their advertising expenditures and within their ranks.