Over the past few weeks, starting with the New York Times on April 1, there has been a well-coordinated effort to take down Bill O'Reilly. That effort has now succeeded.
It is not my purpose to defend O'Reilly. From my perspective, TV hosts come and go. I admit to having been a relatively frequent viewer of O'Reilly's program. Compared to other hosts, he has a pretty good sense of humor, and is relatively entertaining. He's also a blow-hard, but aren't they all? I did not find him to be particularly conservative, let alone libertarian, although he did have at least some skepticism about unchecked government power -- which cannot be said of his competitors at CNN and MSNBC. Maybe I would agree with his point of view about 40% of the time; but that's 40% more than I would agree with the point of view of his competitors.
But what is to me most interesting about the O'Reilly story is the comparison of the accusations made against him to those made against the other Bill, Clinton. Or to put it another way, there is no comparison. Now, I don't know whether any or all of the accusations against either man are true. Except that, in the case of Clinton, one of the very most serious allegations (Lewinsky) was proved rather definitively; not so as to O'Reilly, who apparently denies everything. But assume for these purposes that all of the accusations in both cases are true. For one Bill (O'Reilly), these are accusations of failed jokes, allegedly inappropriate looks, allegedly condescending remarks, and, in the most recent case that brought matters to a head, an invitation to a hotel room which was declined and not pursued further. For the other Bill (Clinton), it is accusations of rape, blatantly improper sexual contact including with a young intern and a babysitter, numerous instances of forcible contact and groping, and attempted seduction.
And yet the same voices that are raised so stridently against O'Reilly have never have raised a peep against Clinton, even up to this day. No amount of accusations against Clinton make so much as a dent in his reputation. He's a liberal icon! It's almost as if this really has nothing to do with standing up for maltreated women, and only has to do with bringing down our enemies and supporting our friends.
Let's look at some of the respective accusations. BuzzFeed here has a roundup of accusations against O'Reilly. Examples:
- From Caroline Heldman, a professor at Occidental University who was a frequent guest on O'Reilly's program from about 2008 - 2013: "The first time I met him in person he said, 'when I was in college professors didn't look like you,'" she recalled. "He likes to stare at legs and breasts. He was belittling as well as flirtatious. . . . He tried to rattle me and other female guests," she said. "He would say condescending things like, 'OK ladies, try and be smart today.'"
- From former Fox News employee Perquita Burgess (a black woman and not an on-air personality): "One day he walks past my desk ... he walks past and says 'Hey, hot chocolate,'" Burgess said. "I didn’t respond. I was mortified ... I took that as a very plantational remark."
- From Wendy Walsh, a psychologist and former regular guest on the program (and source of the most recent accusations that brought the matter to a head): Wendy Walsh claims the talk show host asked her to come to his hotel room and, when she declined, he retaliated by dropping her as a regular guest on his show and reneging on an alleged promise to help her land her own show on Fox News. (Via PowerLine)
- From Jehmu Greene, another former regular guest on the program: Greene, who was a regular Fox guest and later became a contributor, reported that in 2007, O’Reilly told her she should show more cleavage.
- The most serious allegations that I find come from a former regular guest named Juliet Huddy, and relate to events in 2011: Juliet Huddy . . . said that Mr. O’Reilly pursued a sexual relationship with her in 2011, at a time he exerted significant influence over her career. When she rebuffed his advances, he tried to derail her career. . . . [Huddy's allegations include] that Mr. O’Reilly had called Ms. Huddy repeatedly and that it sometimes sounded as if he was masturbating. He invited her to his house on Long Island, tried to kiss her, took her to dinner and the theater, and after asking her to return a key to his hotel room, appeared at the door in his boxer shorts, according to the letter. (From an article in the New York Times, January 10, 2017.)
There are more, but that gives a good flavor. The closest thing there to actual physical contact is Huddy's allegation that O'Reilly "tried to kiss" her. There are no allegation of touching, nor of groping, nor of force, and certainly not of rape.
Now consider Clinton. You already know about Monica Lewinsky. Here are a few others:
- Juanita Broaddrick: "And then as he points over my shoulder, he grabs me and turns me to him. And that was a shock. And I tried to push him away. And I only weighed about 120 pounds at that time. He was a very large man. And I kept telling him, 'No. I don’t want this at all.' And he grabbed me again, very forcefully. And started biting on my top lip. And this was extremely painful. I thought he was going to bite my lip off. And that’s when he pushed me back onto the bed." It goes on from there. (Via Breitbart)
- Kathleen Willey: Willey was a volunteer in Clinton’s White House Social Office in the early 90s. She said she was sexually assaulted by then-President Clinton in the Oval Office when she allegedly went there to speak to him about a job. In her book, Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton, she says she was subjected to threats and extreme intimidation by goons purportedly hired by Hillary Clinton. (Via The Daily Caller)
- Paula Jones: “And he sat down really fast and he dropped his pants,” she recalled, after being escorted to the hotel room by an armed state trooper. And he was fondling himself. And he asked me to kiss it. Now that is disgusting. And I said, ‘I am not that kind of girl.’” (Via Breitbart)
- Here is a roundup of six other accusers (Eileen Wellstone, Carolyn Moffet, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Becky Brown, Helen Dowdy and Christy Zercher). One of them (Gracen) is again an accusation of forcible rape, and several others involve extensive unwanted physical contact and groping.
Again, not meaning to stand up for O'Reilly, but clearly the accusations against Clinton are on an entirely different level.
What is the reaction of corporate America to these respective allegations? Forbes here has a list of more than 50 national advertisers who dropped their support of O'Reilly's program just since April. It's a who's who, from automobile manufacturers (Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Hyundai, Lexius) to Big Pharma (Pfizer, Sanofi, Lilly, GSK). to insurers (Allstate, Esurance, Pacific Life), and on and on. For comparison, from ZeroHedge here we have a list of some $26.6 million of paid speeches given by Bill Clinton to major corporations over just a two-plus year period from January 2013 to May 2015. All of the allegations against Clinton were well-known by that time. Admittedly I don't find exact overlap with the O'Reilly droppers. But Clinton's list of non-droppers is an even more prestigious who's who, starting with most of the big banks (Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan, UBS, Deutsche Bank), software and tech companies (Oracle, Microsoft, SAP), insurers (Zurich, Standard Life), and so on. What, there's no problem associating your name with this guy?
Sometimes the term "double standard" has been used to describe circumstances like these, but I don't think that term really comes close to a fair description.