Feminist Women & Groups React To O'Reilly's Exit

by Chris Tognotti
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Amid a widening sexual harassment scandal that's sparked a mass advertiser boycott, it was reported on Wednesday that longtime cable news host Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to Fox News. A weeks-long public boycott campaign cost O'Reilly's show dozens and dozens of advertisers, and the news has already sparked plenty of reaction on social media, too. For example, feminist and women's groups quickly reacted to O'Reilly's exit, which marked the end of his 20 year-reign at Fox News.

The reason O'Reilly is getting the boot from his position at Fox News is that multiple women have made sexual harassment allegations against him, all of which he has denied. Former O'Reilly on-air guest Wendy Walsh claims he denied her a contributor role because she wouldn't have sex with him, and a former Fox News clerical worker claims she was the target of leering, as well as racist and sexist harassment, from the 67-year-old host.

He's denied the allegations, saying in a statement that he's "vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity." Also, a recent statement from O'Reilly's attorney took a far more aggressive tact, claiming he's faced with "a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America." As you can probably guess, people had some thoughts about all this.

1. What's Actually Amazing

Amanda Terkel was reportedly followed and ambushed with a surprise "interview" by O'Reilly producer and regular on-air contributor Jesse Watters in 2009 for reporting on O'Reilly's controversial comments regarding a rape victim. She pointed out that sexual harassment allegations against O'Reilly have been publicly known about for more than a decade.

2. Fox Sent The Message

According to the explosive New York Times report that ultimately rattled apart O'Reilly's career, the 67-year-old host settled no fewer than five sexual harassment lawsuits during his 20 years at the channel.

3. You Nasty Women

As Jennifer Hayden, the senior social media editor for the Daily Kos, highlighted, the phrase "nasty woman" has been a rallying cry for many progressive/Democratic women in the Trump era, after the then-candidate described Hillary Clinton that way during one of their presidential debates.

4. A Pretty Big Deal

Amy Siskind, the co-founder and president of women's advocacy group The New Agenda, clearly had "the Resistance" on her mind when news of O'Reilly's departure broke.

5. Women Took Bill O'Reilly Down

NARAL Pro-Choice America got in on the act, too, and its not surprising ― reproductive rights are core to women's rights, and O'Reilly had a uniquely bad record on that front.

6. O'Reilly Is Being Fired

Remember that infamous Access Hollywood tape of Trump during the election? Billy Bush got fired, sure, but Trump's campaign marched on, denying any allegations of misconduct. And now, despite it all, he's the most powerful person on Earth.

7. He Was Held Accountable

As HuffPost Women executive editor Emma Gray noted, O'Reilly's downfall was the result both of tireless activism and thorough reporting by women, as well as groups and organizations like Sleeping Giants, which took direct aim at his advertisers to accomplish what once seemed impossible.

8. Let's Stop Pretending

Given that his multi-million-dollar settlement with former producer Andrea Mackris was public knowledge in 2004, it seems clear that Fox News wasn't exactly eager to cut ties with its ratings-grabbing host.

9. You Did It

Women's rights group UltraViolet actually held a protest outside Fox News headquarters in Manhattan on Wednesday to call for O'Reilly's firing, which turned out to be pretty excellent timing.

10. RIP To O'Reilly's Career

Olivia Messer of the Daily Beast gave O'Reilly's career a send-off that so many people can probably relate with: He was sure good at pumping "nonsense" into the forefront of people's minds.

11. Free To Become President

As damaging as the O'Reilly scandal has been to his career, he still hasn't publicly faced as many allegations as President Trump did during his campaign, as was pointed out by Lauren Wolfe, director of the Women Under Siege project from the Women's Media Center. Also, there's no publicly released video of O'Reilly bragging about doing such things, while the president is on the record.

12. The Collective Power

The Women's March organization, which pulled off that incredibly dramatic, massive protest just one day after the Trump inauguration, weighed in on the news with some enthusiasm of its own.

13. Bye O'Reilly

Actor Nia Long kept it short and sweet, with a "bye" for O'Reilly and a "thank you" for Fox News. The latter makes her a lot more generous than many have been ― for a lot of people, the only response to the channel is "What took you so long?"

14. Welp

The National Organization for Women, which called for O'Reilly's firing in early April, didn't waste time with an overly wordy reply. To the contrary, "welp" pretty much says it all.

15. It's Official

Feminist author and columnist Jessica Valenti went the GIF route in response to O'Reilly getting the boot, usually a solid move in a sudden moment of shared recognition on social media.

16. Slaying Is The Family Business

As Time's Charlotte Alter noted, the attorney for at least two of O'Reilly's accusers is Lisa Bloom, the daughter of high-profile attorney Gloria Allred. Seems like it runs in the family, huh?

17. O'Reilly Kept His Job

As Los Angeles Times political columnist Cathleen Decker points out, O'Reilly stuck at Fox News for a staggering 13 years after his 2004 multi-million-dollar settlement with Mackris.

18. When You're Glad O'Reilly Is Gone

According to Fox News, longtime conservative commentator Tucker Carlson will be sliding into O'Reilly's time slot -- something associate women's editor for the Huffington Post Jenavieve Hatch is less than pleased about.

19. Let's Not Forget People Organized

There's a lot of credit to go around, no doubt, but Sarah Jaffe, a fellow at the Nation Institute, wants you to keep all those political organizers and progressive advocacy groups in mind.

20. Ding, Dong!

The ever-sharp Lauren Duca of Teen Vogue wants you to remember that celebrations aside, O'Reilly or no O'Reilly, many women are still scared and threatened against speaking out about harassment.

21. Maybe I'm Being Greedy

That would be a pretty cool trend, wouldn't it?

22. We Slayed The Dragon

Bloom took a victory lap on social media, hailing the power that women manifested in raising awareness about O'Reilly and forcing his ousting. She followed it up with a tweet containing her official statement on the matter.

23. Here Is My Victory Statement

Those last two tweets are from Bloom, the attorney who represents Walsh, as well as this week's new accuser whose name is not publicly known. She has continued to suggest that she's received more phone calls alleging sexual harassment within Fox News, including a tweet claiming her phone was "ringing off the hook," and that she'd be representing further accusers for free.

In short, after 20 years on the air and a reported $13 million paid out in legal settlements over that time, the O'Reilly era has come to an end. And feminists, progressives, and activists are feeling gratified.