Article by Sarah Pickett | esPResso Staff Writer
After years of sexual harassment allegations, political commentator, Bill O’Reilly was dropped by Fox News Network, igniting a social media uproar. For the past 20 years O’Reilly has been the face of Fox News as the host of the number one cable show The O’Reilly Factor. An internal sexual harassment investigation as well as social media activism has influenced over 50 advertisers to withdraw from the show. This lead to the decision by the Fox News Network to dismiss O’Reilly. His departure from the show was accompanied by a pay out of $25 million, which is equivalent to a year’s salary.
Before O’Reilly’s dismissal, left leaning groups such as Color of Change led their millions followers on Twitter in the online protests against the Conservative Political commentator. Hashtags like #DropOReilly were trending across social media platforms. Even a giant rally outside Fox News headquarters erupted.
Earlier this month, New York Times released an internal investigation on the matter. The investigation revealed that O’Reilly and Fox reached settlements with five women who had spoke up about sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
In order to convince advertisers to drop O’Reilly, the Women’s March official Twitter page invited women to share their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. There was an outpouring of stories being shared by women on Twitter, which led to an even larger online protest against both O’Reilly himself and the overall negative treatment of women in the workplace.
In addition to the inappropriate behavior in Fox’s newsroom, the public was disappointed by the network’s attempts to cover up the scandal with money. Nicole Carty, a campaign manager for consumer watchdog group SumofUs, states “Fox is a corporation and corporations listen to their bottom line,” Carty says. “We had to make it economically painful for them before they took action.” It seems that the loss of money from advertisers was the economical blow that ultimately convinced Fox to fire the host.
Sexual harassment and mistreatment towards women has been an ongoing issue that has unfortunately been escalated in recent years by male political figures. However, O’Reilly’s dismissal is a step in the right direction. Thanks to social media, the general publics opinions were really taken into account and even put into action. Proving that social media activism can be a powerful and positive force in today’s world. With Tucker Carlson set to take O’Reilly’s place, hopefully the network can reshape its own image and more importantly better its treatment of women.