FAIR & BALANCED

Fox News’ Only On-Air Mention of O’Reilly Scandal Blames Roger Ailes

Howard Kurtz spent less than two minutes covering the Bill O’Reilly scandal on his Fox News ‘MediaBuzz’ show.

It was a “rough week of media coverage for Fox News.”

That’s how MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz characterized the scandal surrounding his network’s star anchor during a one-minute-and-45-second monologue at the tail end of his Sunday morning show this week.

More than fifty advertisers fled The O’Reilly Factor after The New York Times published a report that revealed three previously unknown settlements Bill O’Reilly had made with women for alleged sexual harassment. Fox and O’Reilly paid out a total of $13 million to five different women even as the host maintains his innocence.

In his short report, Kurtz read aloud from a Fox News statement about reallocating those advertisers to other programs on the network and highlighted President Donald Trump’s defense of O’Reilly—without mentioning the president’s own history of bragging about sexual assault.

Kurtz also gave a brief mention to another lawsuit brought against Fox News by current contributor Julie Roginsky, who claims not only sexual harassment from former Fox head Roger Ailes, but also gender discrimination and retaliation from current executives Bill Shine, Dianne Brandi, and Suzanne Scott. Roginsky’s suit singles out Shine specifically for failing to investigate the many claims against Ailes.

“This has been a difficult and uncomfortable period for the people who work here, no question about it,” Kurtz said towards the end of the short segment. “The network has been trying to move on, to change the culture, and to make clear that any kind of harassment is unacceptable.”

Then he concluded with this statement: “Most of these allegations date from the Roger Ailes era, but the echoes of that era are still making news.”

The “Roger Ailes era,” as it were, extended all the way until July of 2016 when the man who made Fox News into the conservative behemoth it is today was finally forced to resign. So naturally, any sexual harassment claims that were not made in the past nine months date from his time as chairman and CEO.

In a statement this week, Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox said that it was enlisting the outside law firm Paul Weiss to investigate at least one of the complaints against O’Reilly. But Kurtz’s final statement seems to suggest that the era of sexual harassment at Fox is over—an exclusive symptom of the Ailes era.

Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly remains on the air, even if one of his only remaining advertisements is trolling message from John Oliver. Ailes may be gone, but as Roginsky’s lawsuit alleges, the systemic efforts to sweep aside his actions and the culture he created persist.