All White people benefit from privilege in America — we know that; but what folks forget is that privilege is like all things — it has levels to it. There is “Warren G rich” and then there is “Warren Buffet rich.” Similarly, there is “I don’t get followed in stores White Privilege” and then there is “I can harass multiple women over the course of 21 years and my employer won’t simply allow it, but they will essentially finance it by paying settlements to my victims” White Privilege. Bill O’Reilly is the Mac Daddy, King Supreme, and Chief Executive Officer of White Privilege.
And for a long time, millions of White conservatives were Hailing the Chief.
We, Americans, love bad-asses. We will root for the bad guy or the good guy in any movie if he seems as if he is strapped with a set of massive cojones – a true “I give zero-fucks, do what I want, when I want, to whom I want, Al Capone-like” attitude. Bill O’Reilly was White Conservatives’ John Wayne: virile masculinity and indestructibility. He said and did what he wanted without any consequences.
Zero consequences when he said:
Donald Trump will have a hard time helping black people get jobs because most of them are “ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads.”
“Don’t abandon your children. Don’t get pregnant at 14. Don’t allow your neighborhoods to deteriorate into free-fire zones. That’s what the African-American community should have on their T-shirts.”
Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House,” O’Reilly said, thrilled at the chance both to mansplain and whitesplain the topic to FLOTUS. “Slaves that worked [at the White House] were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.”
The reason Trayvon Martin died is because he looked a certain way. It wasn’t based on skin color, if Trayvon Martin had been wearing a jacket…and a tie… I don’t think George Zimmerman would have had any problem with him. And that way is how “gangstas” look and therefore he got attention.
Zero consequences when he:
Blamed a rape on the victim: She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning.
Zero consequences when he said:
Many women are blasted out of their minds when they get pregnant. They aren’t going to use birth control anyway.
Zero consequences when he reportedly abused his ex-wife (in front of his child) and attempted to get his ex-wife’s new husband fired from his job.
Zero consequences when for 21 years he spewed his sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic rhetoric. Zero. He made millions and made Fox millions more by bullying the poor, the disenfranchised, and the less powerful. He was the White man’s hero: the one who said the things they thought, the one who protected their position of power.
Bill O’Relly became such a hero that Fox didn’t just refuse to ever punish him for his vile behavior, they protected him. An investigation by The New York Times has found five women who have received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him. The settlements totaled almost $13 million.
He wasn’t let go until his behavior became too costly to Fox (as more and more advertisers withdrew each day). And when they let him go, he left with a multi-million dollar pay-out (reportedly over $25 million) and with a respectful send-off as if he were retiring instead of leaving after years of abusing women:
After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.
Dana Perino, who substituted for Bill O’Reilly after his release, paid tribute to Mr. O’Reilly, calling him “the undisputed king of cable news.” I guess the fact that many of her female colleagues have complained about his abuse of them didn’t matter to Ms. Perino.
His abusive behavior doesn’t matter to many. O’Reilly has announced that he is bringing back his podcast; it is believed that another station will hire him fairly soon; and he has kept his extremely lucrative book deal.
He is still a hero to many: a man who was bold enough to speak on the flaws of anyone who wasn’t a White, Conservative, Christian Male. He fought to ensure that they, White Males, remained in power, which is ironic because it was that exact power and privilege that allowed their spokesman the ability to degrade and abuse. I’m confused why people are celebrating O’Reilly’s removal. We have won nothing. The decision to fire him was a financial one; not a moral one. It does not speak to anything improving in America; instead it confirms all that is wrong.