Bill O'Reilly is vile. His departure from Fox is long overdue | Moustafa Bayoumi

Moustafa Bayoumi
‘Such dreadful conduct should not have been unacceptable in 1957 and must not be in 2017, either.’ Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

Is anyone looking to hire an alleged sexual harasser who is a falsehood-babbling, pathologically bloviating, sanctimonious sac of conservative bile? If so, I may know someone!

Bill O’Reilly has been fired, and not a moment too soon. O’Reilly is, of course, the host of Fox New’s The O’Reilly Factor and is one of cable TV’s most successful personalities. He is a man who must have “leftwing conspiracy” tattooed on the inside of his eyelids since he sees them so often.

O’Reilly is now infamous as the man who cost his company, Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, at least $13m in legal settlements to avoid sexual harassment claims reaching court. He may also be the most famous man yet to lose his job due to sexual harassment allegations. His firing is encouraging. The harassment charges, though, are downright disturbing.

According to reports, O’Reilly, a 67-year old man who earns approximately $18m a year from hosting his show, has engaged in a repeated pattern of vile harassment of female employees for well over a decade. (He denies the allegations.) The multiple testimonies allege that O’Reilly acts as a serial bully, a man who offers women in his workplace career advancement if they become sexually involved with him and, when rebuffed, turns malicious and seeks to punish the same women by damaging their professional progress.

Such behavior is revolting and even more sickening than you may think. One woman, Andrea Mackris, alleges that O’Reilly instructed her to purchase a vibrator and, when he called her, would sound like he was masturbating over the phone, according to her lawsuit. (She apparently recorded some conversations.) She also stated that O’Reilly threatened her by saying he would make any woman protesting his actions “pay so dearly that she’ll wish she’d never been born”.

Another woman, Wendy Walsh, reported similar deeds from O’Reilly, where he would first attempt to seduce her and then turn vindictive. She told the New York Times that she “feel[s] bad that some of these old guys are using mating strategies that were acceptable in the 1950s and are not acceptable now”.

Such dreadful conduct should not have been acceptable in 1957 and must not be in 2017, either. Working women already have more than enough discriminatory treatment to shoulder. In 2015, working women in the US made only about 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, and the pace of equity remains infuriatingly slow.

At current rates, it will take until 2059 for all women to reach pay parity, and it’s much worse for women of color. Black women, at current projections, will earn equal pay only in 2124, and Hispanic women won’t reach pay equity in the US until the science-fiction sounding year (since it’s so far away) of 2248.

But we really can’t be that surprised at O’Reilly, can we? The alleged sexual intimidation tactics of his off-air life mirror his well-known on-air persona as an ideological bully. Jeremy Glick, who appeared on O’Reilly’s show in 2003, could testify to that.

Glick’s father, a Port Authority worker, was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. When Jeremy appeared on O’Reilly’s show, O’Reilly began the segment with staged shock that Jeremy had signed on to a statement criticizing the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Having methodically studied O’Reilly’s aggressive interviewing style, Glick brilliantly maneuvered around the host not only to get his point across but also to expose O’Reilly’s intellectual weaknesses.

By the end of the interview, O’Reilly was yelling, “You keep your mouth shut,” at Glick, berating the son who has lost his father by telling him that “You have a warped view of this world and a warped view of this country”. After telling Glick to “shut up” multiple times, O’Reilly then suddenly ends the interview with “Cut his mic! I’m not going to dress you down any more.”

Glick later reported that O’Reilly was so upset that producers on the show told Glick to leave the building quickly before “O’Reilly ended up in jail”. This is only one example among many of how O’Reilly’s arrogant comportment bears striking similarities to the aggressive, toxic, self-serving, hyper-masculine behavior that his female accusers also accuse him of.

So, I’m thrilled that Bill O’Reilly is off the air. It will be a boon to common decency. But please don’t tell me that Fox fired O’Reilly only because they were losing too many sponsors, even if The Factor was hemorrhaging advertisers last week faster than United Airlines reputation was tumbling.

And don’t tell me that Fox fired O’Reilly only because of the demonstrations outside of Fox headquarters in New York City were bringing them bad press, costing them credibility that was always more assumed than earned in Fox’s case.

And don’t tell me that Fox fired O’Reilly only because the Rupert Murdoch’s sons think O’Reilly is a liability in their conversations with British media regulators regarding their proposed takeover of Sky TV.

All of that is true. But the point is to put these facts together to see that the public is able to influence the media producers rather than only the other way around, and that it’s high time we make predatory sexism a business-losing proposition.

Last July, Fox News’s CEO Roger Ailes lost his position because of his rampant sexual harassment. This April, Bill O’Reilly did. Two of America’s most powerful men and now most notorious sexual predators have been dismissed from their jobs.

But there is still one more very high-profile, falsehood-babbling, pathologically bloviating, sanctimonious sac of conservative bile accused of sexual harassment who is still occupying his position. The question is when Bill O’Reilly’s great defender, Donald Trump, will leave his job. While O’Reilly’s rather sudden departure was a welcome surprise, we’ve been prepared for Trump’s downfall for a while now. What’s taking so long?

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