Bill O’Reilly got fired. I find this fascinating. It’d be so easy to over analyze his situation, while basking in the glow of schadenfreude. Fun, too. So let’s do that.
I always try to imagine the big picture. And I try to view reality with as few biases as I can. This is impossible, of course. The nature of the human mind means that I will never be able to see all the biases that affect me, or even most of them. I always have to keep in mind the possibility that not only am I wrong, but I am so off base that I am misleading everyone around me. But it’s hard not read O’Reilly’s fall as a microcosm of Trump’s story. First off, we need to ask the question, why now? If misogyny is the root cause of his termination, then why this moment, after decades of thinly veiled misogynistic, xenophobic rhetoric? We can answer this question, kind of. He was fired because advertisers were abandoning him. Advertisers were abandoning him because Fox News paid out 13 million dollars in sexual harassment suits against him. The money was paid out in settlements to keep his accusers from going public. But none of that answers the question, why now?
I’d like to believe it was triggered by Trump’s rise. Trump has galvanized liberals in ways people like Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders never were able to. As passionate as his supporters are, his detractors are more so. The only reason why Trump is in power is because not all votes have the same weight. His detractors are doing their best to level the playing field. If he’s only in power because of a few hundred thousand votes in the right places, then others are going to do their best to change as many mind as possible, hopefully reaching a few of those votes in the places that really matter. Truth comes from a lot of places. One of those places is repetition. Have enough people say the same thing enough times and it becomes true, regardless of any facts otherwise. Slowly but surely, his detractors are beginning to change people’s minds. Women who earlier may not have had the confidence to come out against O’Reilly may feel emboldened. Men who otherwise would have ignored them are taking accusations seriously. His fans who would have followed him to hell are beginning to have second thoughts. Change doesn’t happen all at once, but once it starts, it resembles an avalanche.
I could be wrong, of course. It’s entirely possible that this is just a coincidence. That the Fox News empire just felt he was no longer relevant to their story and he was now a greater liability than asset. It could be as simple as that. But that seems like it misses a greater story. Perhaps this is just my desperation talking, but this feels like a bigger hit on Trump than it might seem to be.