Last week, 21st Century Fox announced that it had cut ties with longtime television host and political commentator Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly, 67, had served as the host of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News since 1996.
The announcement from 21st Century Fox followed the publication of an article in The New York Times that detailed sexual harassment accusations and related lawsuits against O’Reilly. According to the Times, the allegations against O’Reilly included “verbal abuse, lewd comments,” inappropriate phone calls, “causing [women] to fear that if they rebuffed [his advances], their careers would stall,” and threats of retaliation against anyone who complained about his actions. After the Times article was published, dozens of advertisers stopped airing ads on The O’Reilly Factor. The network faced pressure from a variety of sources to cut O’Reilly loose. On April 19, 21st Century Fox issued a one-sentence statement that read as follows: “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.” O’Reilly later issued his own statement, indicating that it was “tremendously disheartening” that he and Fox News were “part[ing] ways due to completely unfounded claims.”
In the wake of this announcement, a few observations are in order. First, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms has no way of knowing whether the accusations against Bill O’Reilly are true. However, Christians must not be silent when it comes to sexual harassment. Whether it is committed by those on the left or the right, sexual harassment is wrong. No one should be covering for it. Second, regardless of the truth of the matter, there has been wrongdoing in this situation. The conduct of which O’Reilly is accused is completely unacceptable from a Christian perspective. In Ephesians 4:29, the Lord says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” In Luke 6:31, the Lord says, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” If the accusations against O’Reilly are false, his accusers have violated the Ninth Commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Third, the conduct of 21st Century Fox in this situation is not above reproach. If the accusations against O’Reilly were true, the network should have forced him out long ago; certainly, they should not have rewarded him with a recent contract extension. If the accusations are false, the network should have stood by him.
Those New Yorkers who watched The O’Reilly Factor regularly are likely shocked and upset by this news. Many New Yorkers will likely miss seeing Bill O’Reilly on TV. These reactions are quite understandable. Without dismissing those feelings, we encourage our listeners and readers to consider this: The things that we do to influence our government in a godly way are much more significant than the media that we consume. Let’s use this unfortunate situation as motivation to redouble our efforts to influence legislation and legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ.