There’s a new game in Mid-town Manhattan setting tongues wagging as 21st Century Fox has tapped the Paul Weiss firm to investigate claims of sexual harassment against Bill O’Reilly, the most valuable player on the Fox roster. Rumors of Cosby-esque misdeeds have swirled around O’Reilly, like a diaphanous mist, since 2002, but this past week, they settled on him like an impenetrable fog.
A new complaint phoned into the 21st Century Fox alert line, recorded and posted to YouTube, brought O’Reilly back to the front page news. Dr. Wendy Walsh, a former guest on The Factor, and her attorney, Lisa Bloom, in an enormous public display, attempted to drive a stake in the heart of Fox. Walsh isn’t suing Fox; she claims her coming forward is simply to set the record straight on O’Reilly’s lewd behavior:
Walsh, a psychologist and radio host, said O’Reilly reneged on an offer to secure her a lucrative job on the network after she declined his invitation to join him in his hotel suite after a dinner in early 2013.
Over a span of fifteen years, Fox has settled with five women who accused former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes and his pal O’Reilly of sexual misconduct, for $13 million dollars, per a New York Times investigation. A drop in the bucket for the vast revenues Fox pulls down in advertising. A two-year span of O’Reilly’s primetime show, The Factor, alone produced $446 million. But that might’ve changed this past week as long-time sponsors pulled their support. In a matter of days, the financial bleed hemorrhaged:
Numerous companies have pulled ads from O’Reilly’s Fox News show since the report, including BMW of North America, Allstate Corp, French pharmaceuticals maker Sanofi SA, direct marketer Constant Contact, men’s clothing company Untuckit and mutual fund operator T. Rowe Price. British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc said it temporarily suspended its advertising.
But don’t let the news reports from mainstream media fool you (stop salivating Rachel Maddow fanatics, Fox News isn’t going anywhere). Advertisers might be leaving The Factor, but they aren’t leaving Fox. They are being placed in other shows and timeslots per a statement released by Fox News Channel’s Executive Vice President of advertising sales, Paul Rittenberg. “We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about the O’Reilly Factor. Now, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
The Paul Weiss firm isn’t new to the field at Fox. They investigated Ailes, who vehemently denied any harassment behavior, but was sent packing after the news corporation reviewed undisclosed details from the complainant’s statements. The Weiss company is a heavy hitter in the legal field, and their presence is clear that 21st Century Fox isn’t taking this situation lightly.
Fear not, O’Reilly fans, Bill recently inked a new contract with Fox last week, amidst the drama and accusations, he is still their number one player. Maybe that will change over time, but it doesn’t appear it will be anytime soon. Perhaps Fox will fall victim, as others have, to ego and disturbed behavior by one of their biggest stars, but it seems the time for complacency is over now that a lengthy investigation is underway.