Let us now cheer the end of Bill O’Reilly

May 2, 2017 Originally published on SFGate

It feels sort of… anticlimactic. It feels so far overdue as to be something we all should have been reading, and celebrating, back in, oh, 2005, along with the imminent demise of Rush, Drudge, hate radio, et al.

But let us not complain overmuch, and instead relish the reports currently flooding in like a tidal wave of wary glee: the Murdochs have forced Bill O’Reilly out of Fox News, due to all those nagging sexual harassment allegations.

And lo, the (tentative, downtrodden) forces of good in the world doth cheer, just a little.

Will it matter? Maybe a little. Fox’s ratings will surely take a serious hit. Noted anti-intellectual clod Sean Hannity might get O’Reilly’s prime-time slot (or maybe milquetoast Tucker Carlson). The grand pantheon of rich, sexist white ogres who helped lie, steal and hack Trump into power will shudder and congeal a little bit more.

But after 20 years as Fox’s loudest, most bilious cash cow, O’Reilly will surely remain some sort of grumpy-old-man hero to the alt-right, forever attached to fellow champions of screaming intellectual degeneration like Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Peter Theil, Limbaugh, Giuliani, Drudge, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, the Tea Party, Mitch McConnell and all the rest. He had a spectacular run, in much the same way a tapeworm has a great run in your small intestine.

Do not worry about old Bill. He will be OK. He is, after all, a multi-millionaire. An alt-right superstar. He will likely get a huge severance from Murdoch. He’s been waging a brutal battle with his ex-wife for many years, trying to wrangle millions from her, too, after he lost his kids – who reportedly detest him – in a savage custody battle. We haven’t heard the last of old Bill.

But what, the devil and his minions wish to know, might he do next?

Congratulations to Bill O’Reilly on his appointment as Special Assistant to the President for Women’s Affairs!

— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) April 19, 2017

Maybe he’ll write his memoirs: “F–k It, We’ll Do It Live.” Maybe he’ll get into podcasting, go on the road with Bill Cosby, start a dating advice column on Breitbart or Drudge. Maybe the Catholic Church, which has long supported O’Reilly (and criticized his ex-wife, at his behest), will bring him in as ethics adviser to the priesthood.

Good riddance

Surely he will continue to “write” those quasi-historical Killing novels he doesn’t actually write, and which aren’t at all true to history, or facts, but which sell really, really well to the easily duped hoi polloi at various Costcos across this fine and Fox-fragmented land.

Or perhaps, most likely of all, he will land a plum spot on Team Trump itself, advising the Orange Goblin on how to lace his fake news delivery skills with more overt racism, alt-facts, shrugging sexism and old-white-male contempt for everyone and everything that now everywhere exists.

But what about his accusers? Will all those women O’Reilly allegedly harassed, mocked, taunted and threatened for all those years now feel vindicated? That some form of justice has finally been done? Maybe. Doubtful. After all, many lost their jobs, their career opportunities, their chance to be heard. And those few who weren’t paid to stay quiet, surely faced brutal swarms of hate and death threats from alt-right trolls.

It’s worth remembering that Murdoch isn’t firing O’Reilly because Bill is a sexually abusive cretin. This is the network that had serial gargoyle Roger Ailes, himself an alleged sexual harasser par excellence, as its king. Moral compasses are not exactly a Fox hallmark.

No, Bill is being canned because we found out about it, courtesy the NYT, particularly the $13 million in settlement money the network has already forked over to multiple women to keep them quiet. Result: The network is suddenly hemorrhaging advertising dollars.

Which is to say, it’s a business decision, not an ethical one, and certainly not one that offers a single iota of respect for women – to say nothing of those big-name advertisers who are fleeing Fox, not because of harassment, but because it makes them look bad. After all, these are corporations that had no problem sponsoring years and decades of O’Reilly’s on-air racism, anti-Obama viciousness, endless right-wing spew. Across the board and down the line, the only real concern for the network and all those big name-brands? Negative press.

But perhaps now is not the time for nitpicking. All things considered and given the rather terrifying state of the Trump-poisoned nation right now, we must celebrate the small victories, even if they’re long overdue, even if they’re not truly victories but more like a blessed sloughing off, like a giant, karmic scab that, after years of picking at it, finally falls away. You think?

Farewell, stupendous hater. Be gone long, OK?

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Mark Morford

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