Strategically Speaking: A Blog by Denha Media Group
It’s a blow to conservative media and of course a communication crisis for both Fox News and the talk show host himself.
At the very least, Bill O’Reilly owes his long-time loyal followers his side of the story. Knowing all too well the dynamics of crisis communication, there is most likely a tug of war game going on between lawyers and crisis communication professionals – what to say and what not to say.
The reason this situation becomes more complicated and more damaging for this news outlet, than perhaps another public figure and a different organization, is because of the content they share and the platform they have built – conservative talk.
When you look at the fall of O’Reilly, you have to factor in his public persona.
O’Reilly not only takes on liberal politicians and the liberal side of his own industry, he has penned books on past presidents taking the conservative look on politicians and has even written a book about Jesus Christ.
If the allegations are true, it’s hypocrisy at its worst.
How can you claim to be a conservative Christian and be accused of creating a hostile work environment which includes sexually harassing women?
This is beyond a communication crisis; it is an issue at the core of a human being and one where a moral compass was not used.
Bill O’Reilly needs to factor in his own issues and Fox News needs to take a deep look at why, just months apart, two of the most powerful people in their network have been accused of similar harassments.
The allegations against O’Reilly follow litigation and news coverage involving women claim they were harassed by and/or retaliated against by former CEO Roger Ailes.
There is also the issue of a cover-up.
O’Reilly allegedly paid settlements to women in exchange for their silence. The cover up is always worse than the crime and as this Christian believes, the truth always comes out as it did in this case.
This crisis is not unlike the allegations brought against Mr. All-American, TV Dad, Bill Cosby. When high-profile personalities display a wholesome persona in their careers, the public expects them to reflect that same image in their personal lives. And when they don’t, it only adds fuel to an already roaring fire.
When you look at the O’Reilly situation, it’s a deeper problem than another crisis involving sexual harassment. Fox News didn’t decide to let him go until advertisers pulled out.
So, factor in that this became a money issue and not just a moral one. Also consider that he was given a $25 million dollar parting gift.
When you look at turning around this problem, there is much to factor in — the man, the image he portrayed, the network he represented, and how they handled this crisis.
Vanessa Denha Garmo is a communication strategist and Founder of Denha Media Group.