If we women weren’t already so jaded about the way powerful men are excused for their bad behavior, this might seem totally unbelievable.
Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host who was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and ultimately reached legal settlements, with at least six worth a total of $45 million, is reportedly in talks to get a new radio show at 77 WABC in New York.
His attorney told one news outlet, “We are in the final stages of a contract and a program should be on in the fall.” How nice for him.
It gets worse. The station’s owner is billionaire John Catsimatidis, a longtime supporter of another credibly accused serial sexual harasser, President Donald Trump.
Back in 2016, a longtime Fox colleague of O’Reilly’s was essentially forced out of her job at Fox after accusing him of sexual harassment. Her settlement required her silence, as do most, but reports allege that O’Reilly called Juliet Huddy while masturbating, then retaliated against her professionally when she rejected his sexual advances.
She hoped to find another job in media, but realized, as the Columbia Journalism Review put it, “women like Huddy are blacklisted by the entire news industry.”
So many of the women who made public allegations of sexual harassment at Fox and other news networks have been professionally discarded in the process, finding it hard to land work again in the industry they loved and were trying to protect from alleged predators like O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Mark Halperin.
Of the 15 women who made public allegations of sexual harassment at Fox, only one had found another job in TV news as of April 2018. None who had filed sexual harassment claims found jobs in news, according to the CJR report.
I personally know half a dozen former colleagues and friends who are still unemployed, years after bravely revealing their abuse at work.
But O’Reilly’s 2016 accuser did finally find another broadcast job, after reeling from the financial consequences of suing Fox. In 2018, Huddy was thrilled to get a full-time co-hosting gig at a New York radio station, where she is currently employed.
It’s the very same one looking to hire O’Reilly now.
Upon the news, Huddy tweeted: “Yes, I’m aware. No, I have no comment except to say I’ll continue to focus on the job I was hired to do, and speak honestly and authentically about my beliefs.” She later added, “Company Christmas party should be a real zinger this year.”
While Huddy is publicly taking the news in stride, it’s hard to imagine how agonizing the prospect of working alongside her alleged harasser must be, and how galling to know her employer doesn’t seem to care.
Gretchen Carlson, who also sued Fox News and Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, was more pointed: “Please boycott WABC if true,” she tweeted, saying it is “disgusting” to give a platform back to Bill O’Reilly “after he was ousted from Fox News for multiple sexual harassment allegations and massive payouts to women.”
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Plenty of the men who were exposed during the MeToo movement feel more than entitled to fully re-enter their past lives, regain their livelihood and professional reputations, something their accusers have found nearly impossible.
Halperin, a former ABC and MSNBC political analyst accused by multiple women of soliciting sex from co-workers, groping and rubbing his erect penis on colleagues, whined earlier this year that “murderers in our society who get out of prison are afforded an opportunity to go on with some aspect of their life.” He got a book deal in 2019.
Former NBC anchor Matt Lauer, accused of rape by a former staffer, and found by NBC to have engaged in inappropriate behavior, allegedly wants to make a comeback too.
In March, comedian Louis C. K., who admitted to masturbating in front of his female colleagues, returned to a packed theater in Washington, D.C., where he joked, “How was 2018 and 2019 for you guys? Anyone else get in global amounts of trouble?” Just this week he was photographed alongside Dave Chapelle at his virtual comedy show.
Is this really what justice looks like? A professional graveyard of women who put their careers and lives on the line to expose the powerful men who hurt them, and those same men carrying on with their freedom, livelihood and career opportunities like nothing ever happened?
Sadly, despite the relative success of MeToo, women have always known these to be the stakes and circumstances, which is what prevented us from coming forward in the first place. When we see there are only consequences for us, not them, coming forward just doesn’t seem worth the risks.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.