Yes, I have met Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes and Donald Trump. It was part of my life as a television newswoman in New York City in the '70's and '80's. The three men appear to have changed little since those days except for their increased amounts of power in business and enormous amounts of money earned. Today they are reunited in that special club of men who have been accused of sexually harassing women in their workplaces.
The media business has been a place of rampant sexual harassment for an embarrassing amount of time. And it's not the men who have most been embarrassed, but the women left to deal with the consequences. The choice for any woman has been to either keep it to yourself or speak up and risk losing your job and reputation. I should know. I was a victim of sexual harassment while in television news.
The business of media is not alone in quietly fostering questionable environments for women. It's gotten only slightly better over time while other sectors of business, large and small, too often unofficially allow employees to sexually harass and victimize women. There is no other way to describe how a woman feels when men turn to sexual propositions or innuendo, lewd behavior or the subtlety of inappropriate words and actions. We can research the numbers of actual cases that have been filed by women. According to the EEOC, 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to them each year. What we can't research are the numbers of women who didn't file cases and either continued to work as best as they could in toxic situations or quit their jobs.
The old boys club did not go out of existence with the "Madmen" era. It's carried over to the three high profile men who came of age during that time and were recently found to allegedly have sexually harassed women. The first to go down as a result of his apparent behavior was the former head of Fox News and long time Republican consultant, Roger Ailes. Alies is 76 years old. Next to be outed for his outrageous behavior boasting about assulting women on an Access Hollywood tape is Donald Trump. Months later he was elected President of the United States. Trump is 70 years old. Now it's Bill O'Reilly's turn to have his behavior toward women exposed for what it allegedly is. Disgusting. O'Reilly is 67 years old. All three men are friends. Trump hired Ailes as a campaign advisor after Ailes was fired by Fox. Trump publicaly came to O'Reilly's defense in an Oval Office interview with the New York Times describing O'Reilly as “a good person” adding, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,”
That's how the old boys club operates. Defend. Distract. Hire.
Millions of dollars have been paid to women who settled their cases with Fox News. $13 million was paid to women who accused O'Reilly of harassment. $20 million was paid to Gretchen Carlson formerly of Fox News. The man who harassed Carlson, her former boss Roger Ailes, received twice that amount. Fox paid Ailes $40 million as part of his 'exit' package when he was fired. And yes, millions more will be paid to Bill O'Reilly as part of his farewell financial reward. As for the third amigo, we'll probably never know how many claims President Donald Trump has quietly settled. It's absolutely worth quoting part of Donald Trump's 2005 recorded conversation with Access Hollywood's Billy Bush describing his actions with women:
“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,” he said, as well as “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything”
Money and power can buy a great deal. But not everything.
Thousands of women in every workplace where harrassment is allowed to thrive receive no payment at all for grievances reported or kept private. It's a national outrage and tragedy that has been allowed to continue for too long. To women today I say ... Speak out. Speak up. Loudly.