Bill O'Reilly, host of The O'Reilly Factor is out at Fox News. The conservative television personality was done in by a growing number of sexual assault allegations from former colleagues and co-workers, which were reveled in The New York Times reports this year. O'Reilly was a ratings and ad revenue behemoth, the highest-rated cable-news host in America, and a 21 year veteran of the network. He is so closely linked to the image and rise of Fox News that News Corp, Fox's parent company, reportedly struggled with the decision to terminate O'Reilly: the company's public image still has not recovered from the fallout of Fox News C.E.O. Roger Ailes's departure, also due to sexual harassment claims.
O'Reilly's domination on cable news is directly linked to his talent for tapping the racial insecurities of a certain section of the population and, with his natural talent for broadcasting, give these prejudices gravitas and legitimacy. Such was his talent that his influence extended past Fox's traditional viewership: even Jon Stewart, liberal heartthrob and former host of The Daily Show, praised his frequent guest and debate opponent as Fox News's "voice of sanity."
More transparently, The O'Reilly Factor depicted a world under siege by the forces of secularism and cultural degeneracy. O'Reilly had fewer favorite targets than rap music and its artists. Each threat or moral failing in the black community that O'Reilly outlined with fake concern could be traced back to the music he saw as a guidebook for bad behavior. It's been clear for sometime that O'Reilly himself was never a moral beacon: in 2004, he paid over $9 million to a producer who accused him of sexual harassment, and lost custody of his children last year after they detailed horrific domestic violence at his hands.
Still, he maintained his perch as the right's cultural crusader. It's not hard (if troubling) to imagine his millions of viewers listening rapt as he sneers the name of some hip-hop pioneer, as though he's describing something scraped off the bottom of his shoe, yet somehow, just preserving the artifice of a fair and balanced debate. But now, as his career finally crumbles, The FADER is looking back on the most infuriating and ironic times he cast the first stone against hip-hop, while harboring horrible and factual sins.
1. He thought rap music as a general institution was undermining Christianity.
When a 2015 poll found the number of self-identified Christians declining, O'Reilly blamed hip-hop. "The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behavior, and that sinks into the minds of some young people — the group that is most likely to reject religion."
3. He said Beyoncé's rendition of consensual sex was too vulgar.
"[Beyonce] puts out a new album with a video that glorifies having sex in the back of a limousine," he said of "Partition," a 2014 track. "Teenage girls look up to Beyoncé, especially girls of color. Why would she do it when she knows the devastation that unwanted pregnancies…and fractured families, why would Beyoncé do that?"
4. He aired a divisive segment claiming that Jay Z and Young Jeezy celebrating Obama's inauguration was divisive.
Bruised after the Obama's victory in the 2008 election, O'Reilly and Dennis Miller, the right wing's best case for a funny conservative, commiserated by condemning a room of black people celebrating.
5. He said that certain elements of the media are setting a poor example for young people. Not TV pundits, of course, just rappers.
In 2013, O'Reilly leaned on Dr. Ben Carson to validate his criticism of black celebrities. In his sights for this segment: Jay Z and Kanye West, for the Watch The Throne track "Niggas In Paris." Both men took issue with the lyrics, but also focused on a rumored boycott of the state of Florida led by hip-hop stars after the death of Trayvon Martin. It was "unfair," he said, and insisted that black celebrities were hurting their communities. "There doesn't seem to be any champion to clean up the problems harming black children," he claimed.
O'Reilly was a fan of boycotts, when it served him: in 2004, he called the media outlets covering his sexual harassment charges "smear merchants" and encouraged advertisers to drop them.