Thursday, April 5, 2018

21st Century Fox’s Bill O’Reilly Sexual Harassment Scandal (2017)


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Bill O'Reilly
Bill O'Reilly, a well known show host for Fox, has spent the last 20 years growing his fame and attraction through his show, The O'Reilly Factor. He made his way to being one of Fox's most successful show host, accumulating more than $446 million in revenue for the parent company 21st Century Fox from 2014-2016. He might seem like a great factor to Fox's news success, but since 2002, Bill O'Reilly has been accused of sexual and verbal harassment more than 6 times. These allegations have been from several different women, some more serious than others, yet the only action that has been taken from Fox or himself is to pay off the allegations. This has been apparent time and time again. The problem with this is that Fox did not have the guts to take any action towards Bill O'Reilly until 2017. It took them 15 years after 7 different allegations to finally fire Bill O'Reilly from Fox.

Some of these allegations included storming into a room screaming at Rachael Witlieb while other people were in there. Andrea Mackris, a former producer, who filed sexual harassment against him trying to avoid all contact. Then there was Juliet Haddy, who stated that he would have significant influence on her airtime. There are many more females which stated things that Bill O'Reilly did that portrayed his true personality. Making sexual advancements in professional settings, being disrespectful due to not getting the answer he was hoping for. The biggest one of these, the one that got him fired, was the sexual allegations of Lis Wiehl. Her allegations stated that Bill O'Reilly had engaged in a non-consensual sexual relationship with her, and had also sent her sexually explicit content including gay pornography. Like all of the other allegations, this was handled by a settlement, but this time it was much higher than before, she was paid $32 million dollars. O'Reilly was then fired from Fox News in April of 2017, only to be rehired a month after, with a salary of $25 million a year, for four years. It is unbelievable that a company allows someone with such low morals to represent them after that many allegations. They have paid many settlements for him in these allegations, yet still hired him. Fox as a company does not seem to value anything but money, and does not care that there is someone in their in environment who treats any person as he wishes with no regards to the consequences. He has been let off the hook plenty of times before, yet they bring him back on, devaluing all of the claims that spoke of his true character. 


The main stakeholders in this situation are Bill O'Reilly and the company Fox News. Bill O'Reilly is at stake to continuous allegations due to his disrespectful character. He had the ability to accumulate almost 8 allegations in the matter of 10 years. Since he was able to cover them up with settlements, no one knows what kind of other legal action could have been taken against him if the accusers did not accept the settlement. Since he is back in Fox news, who knows how many more allegations will come along. 

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One of the many times that Fox settled allegations for O'Reilly
Fox is also at stake here because they had to attend to all these issues as they came up. They helped O'Reilly pay off a good amount of settlements, and allowed him to continue working for them. They view him more as an asset then a liability, and although he has made them millions, he has also cost them millions. They are at stake to even more allegations in the future by rehiring him. They are not only damaging their profits by having to handle these allegations, but they are also damaging their image by allowing the possibility for this to happen time and time again and not reprimanding O'Reilly when these first started coming up. 

Some other stakeholders would be the employees working directly under O'Reilly. Working with someone that has had the issues, could make some of the employees unsure of the amount of say they could have in their environment. Knowing that all of the allegations were towards woman, any women working with him could be at stake to be disrespected for saying the wrong thing. Since O'Reilly can feel so powerful for getting away with so many things, people could be at stake to more unfair treatment. 


Friedman's theory of individualism states that "The only goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders." what this basically means is that the company only has an obligation to do what is in best interest of the shareholders, in order for them to make the most amount of profit. In the case of Fox, O'Reilly was bringing in a lot of revenue for the company. In the eyes of this theory, Fox was doing the right thing by rehiring O'Reilly since his show helped the company maximize its profits. Although it did cost Fox Money, the returns for the parent company 21st Century Fox were maximized with his show. They would not be in the wrong in this theory and in fact would be doing the correct thing, since O'Reilly was such a top host in their industry. 


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O'Reilly last settlement which led to him being fired for one month
The basis of the Kantian theory is motivated by 4 parts, which are, to act rationally, to help others make rational decisions, to respect people by individual needs and differences and to live by good will, doing things that are right because they are right. When looking at the actions of O'Reilly, it is clear that none of them were rational in any sense. Any of the accusations that were set forth toward O'Reilly resembled actions of his true character. Actions that showed a selfish man acting in his own self interest with no respect to those around him regardless of the differences. The repercussions of his actions lead to him paying money to the different people that he impacted. He payed some settlements, but Fox payed most, buying out one of their top host knowing that in fact it was not the right thing to do. By paying money to the people affected, they were saying to O'Reilly that the could act as he pleased and they would pay for it. This shows they are not acting out of goodwill, nor trying to act rationally. The correct decision would have been to pay the settlements needed and get O'Reilly out of Fox for good, so that he could understand that he cannot disrespect as he wished and get away with it. 


Utilitarianism is based of the idea that one should do what maximizes ones happiness and others happiness as well. It is a combination of Egoism, which is to maximize your own happiness and altruism, which is to maximize happiness in others. The amount of cases that O'Reilly had against him displays the amount of people that he upset so bad that they needed to take action upon it. He solely did things to maximize his own happiness, not caring how it affect other people. It would completely defeat this theory because this whole scandal has ended in O'Reilly getting what he wanted, and the people he actually affected just got money. Now we are not sure if the people were actually happy with just getting a lump sum of money, because they would know that it would prohibit the possibility that this would happen again since he didn't lose his job. Fox news rehired O'Reilly with the sole intention of making their company happy and O'Reilly happy. Many of the people O'Reilly actually affected would still be upset that after all he did he could still be allowed to sit on his throne and possibly continue to do the same things. 

Virtue Theory

The Virtue Theory of a business should follow four simple traits. Those are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. It's important to evaluate this case from each of these traits to see exactly how this case holds up in the eyes of this theory. For O'Reilly to commit all of these actions towards of these different people show that he doesn't not have any courage, but rather lacks it. He could not act mannerly knowing how high of a position he held in his company. He also could not remain honest to his people as he denied most of the allegations yet paid himself out of all of them. He had no temperance, and let himself get way out of hand with people, which is what landed him in all of these accusations in the first place. In terms of justice, neither Fox or O'Reilly himself were justful in how they dealt with these accusations. Yes, they paid them off, but is that really what they wanted, most of these people were already in higher positions which most likely paid a reasonable amount of money. To just pay all of them off, it makes it seem as if they were doing all of this for a paycheck. It does not achieve the level of justice which was necessary to prevent this from happening again. Fox as a company would much rather risk this happening again then to just let go of a show host who does not hold the minimal amount of the traits described in the virtue theory. 


Farhi, P. (2017, October 24). Bill O’Reilly comes to Bill O’Reilly’s defense. And by the way, he’s mad at God. Retrieved from The Washington Post:
Farhi, P. (2017, October 21). Report: Bill O’Reilly settled sexual harassment claim from Fox News contributor for $32 million. Retrieved from The Washington Post:
Steel, E. (2017, December 4). Bill O’Reilly Is Sued by Woman Who Settled Over Harassment Accusations. Retrieved from The New York Times:
Steel, E., & Schmidt, M. S. (2017, April 1). Bill O’Reilly Thrives at Fox News. Retrieved from The New York Times:
Wemple, E. (2017, April 2). Bill O’Reilly: An awful, awful man. Retrieved from The Washington Post:

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