Bill O’Reilly is learning the hard way just how quickly those he might have thought of as friends were not – now that he has been fired from his job at Fox News.
One clear example of this is provided by a former frequent guest on his show, The O’Reilly Factor Kirsten Powers.
In 2014, when O’Reilly was dominating the cable news ratings for Fox where Powers was an on-air commentator, Powers responded to a charge from Marie Harf, a Obama White House spokesperson at the time, that he was a sexist.
In an editorial for USA Today Powers wrote:
Sexism is a serious problem and a serious accusation. It’s true there are many people who dismiss women as unserious and out of their depth not because they are, but because they are women. Bill O’Reilly isn’t one of them.
I know. As a Fox News contributor, I’ve worked with him for eight years, including weekly segments where we often disagree heatedly. O’Reilly does not discriminate when it comes to expressing tough judgments. Anyone with a passing familiarity with his work knows this, which is what makes Harf’s accusation so irresponsible.
Now, in 2017, with Powers working for rival CNN and O’Reilly complaining about being the victim of a smear campaign, things are much different.
Powers, with CNN host Anderson Cooper, whose show was often in direct competition with O’Reilly’s, is now portraying that Bill she knew around that same time period as “a jerk.”
“I was thinking about an incident that had happened early on in my career there where I was on-air there with Margaret Hoover, who’s at CNN now, on a regular segment, we were on every Monday.
And he got Margaret’s name wrong, and Margaret said, ‘Hey, get my name right,’ and he said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, there’s a lot of blondes in this operation, I can’t keep you all straight. Megyn Kelly’s coming up,’ starts throwing all these blondes’ names.
“And at the end of the segment, says, ‘Thank you for your blondeness,’ to both of us.”
Powers goes on to explain that she was so offended by these remarks that she tried to get several – including Roger Ailes, formerly the Fox News Chairman and CEO – to force O’Reilly to apologize to her.
After she was met with responses along the lines of ‘Oh that’s just Bill. He’s a jerk. But he makes us so much money.’ Powers refused to appear on The O’Reilly Factor for three years.
The video of the interview can be seen here:
Why Powers became so offended by remarks that many would see as an innocent joke that she went seeking a forced apology and then boycotted the top show on cable television when she saw that no such apology was forthcoming may strike some as odd.
As Powers herself says:
That’s not sexual harassment. That’s sort of sexual discrimination, I guess. I mean I was never hit on.
Furthermore, with allegations already public that Ailes demanded sexual favors from female employees, and Bill settling multiple lawsuits from female co-workers which claimed he did things like masturbate while speaking with them on the phone, some would find Powers comments here very petty – especially in light of her prior very spirited defense of O’Reilly.
After all, as anyone who watches Fox will acknowledge –
– there are indeed a lot of blondes in that operation. And they are not always easy to tell apart.