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The O'Reilly PR Factor: How a Lame Reaction Generated a PR Crisis for Fox News—And What We Can Learn

Julie Talenfeld By Julie Talenfeld, President, BoardroomPR

Fox News has ousted longtime newscaster Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday. This news comes (about two weeks) after an investigation The New York Times showed how Fox continuously stood by the pundit despite the mounting sexual harassment allegations filed against him. The agreements—and corresponding settlements—totaled near $13 million dollars.

And let’s not forget just months ago, Roger Ailes also got the boot last summer for similar accusations (and settlements).

Fox News…tsk tsk.

It’s important to note too that Fox didn’t just come around, shrug, and decide to do the right thing out of the goodness of their hearts. After the NYT report came out, over 50 advertisers ditched the show, and many women’s groups were vocal in their disapproval of the O’Reilly factor, and of Fox as a whole.

If we’ve learned anything from the relationship of profits and good citizenship so far this year, it’s that acting judiciously generally comes back around to become good business. Had Fox gotten ahead of this and taken a powerful stance before it became a financial detriment, maybe they could’ve bolstered their reputation, enacted new ventures around female empowerment in the workplace, partnered with various nonprofits to make a difference in the corporate community—but now we’re just riffing.

Here’s the bottom line: create a positive work environment for your employees. It’s not just “nice” or “the right thing to do,” it’s literally strategic.

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