An interesting leftover from last night’s CNN panel in which Trump advisor Stephen Moore suggests male CEOs protect themselves by not meeting privately with women employees and gets blasted by Fox alum Kirsten Powers. What he says plays like an insinuation that male bosses have at least as much to fear from greedy women falsely accusing them to shake them down as women do from lecherous male superiors willing to use their power to pressure them sexually. I’m skeptical, and so is Powers. If the women of Fox News are gold-diggers willing to extort any man with deep pockets, she says, where are the accusations against Hannity and Tucker Carlson? Where are the accusations at CNN against Jeff Zucker or Jake Tapper or Wolf Blitzer? These alleged blackmail practices seem oddly haphazard.
You can argue in the abstract that a chaperone is a good idea regardless of which gender has more to fear from the other for the same reason that body cams on cops are a good idea. Having a third pair of eyes in the room will deter bad behavior on both sides and, if it does occur, will provide objective evidence of it. But they’re not arguing in the abstract here; they’re arguing in the context of Ailes, O’Reilly, and the culture at Fox News’s New York office that the network itself acknowledges needed to be corrected. Intentionally or not, Moore’s implying Ailes and O’Reilly might have been framed. O’Reilly didn’t pay Lis Wiehl $32 million because she’s a really good actress and Fox didn’t force out the most powerful man in American news, who built the network from the ground up, because a coven of sociopaths inexplicably decided to get together and concoct some evidence to drive him out. Given the horrific stories coming out about Harvey Weinstein and the ominous implications of what O’Reilly’s blockbuster $32 million payout might have been designed to cover up, it’s tone deaf at the moment to suggest that the male boss needs more protection from the female employee than vice versa.
Speaking of O’Reilly, congratulations to him on setting a new world record in the Victim Olympics:
“You know, am I mad at God? Yeah, I’m mad at him,” O’Reilly said on the latest episode of his web series, “No Spin News.” “I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn’t happen. I can’t explain it to you. Yeah, I’m mad at him.”
He then said that he derives perspective from the tribulations of others, including Kate Steinle, a woman who was allegedly shot by an undocumented immigrant who has been the subject of numerous O’Reilly commentaries.
The talent agency that represents him announced this morning that they’re dropping him as of the end of the year. I keep trying to formulate ways to capture the sheer magnitude of that $32 million settlement, as I’ve never heard of a payout so large from one person to another person. Here’s one way to think about it: Most ransoms, even when the kidnapping involves a member of a fabulously wealthy family, don’t creep up as high as $32 million. John Paul Getty III was ransomed for literally half that amount (in today’s dollars) back in the early 1970s and that remains one of the largest paid in modern history. Even kidnappers, who can name their price to spare their hostage from death, don’t naturally think of a number as big as $32 million. Another way to think about it: At $25 million gross a year at Fox News, O’Reilly was probably taking home a bit more than half that amount after tax. Let’s ballpark it at $15 million net annually. That means more than half of his net from the new four-year deal he struck with Fox this past February would have gone into Wiehl’s pocket. Effectively he was set to spend the next two years of his life working for her. Whatever she had on him must have made him fear a lot more than public embarrassment.