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Boycotting Bill O’Reilly: Over 50 Advertisers Pull Ads on Fox Show over Sexual Harassment Scandal

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The number of advertisers boycotting Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program has increased to at least 52, following revelations that he and the network paid out $13 million to settle lawsuits by five women who accuse O’Reilly of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior. Meanwhile, a third Fox News employee has joined a lawsuit charging the network with racial discrimination. The employees claim top executives—including former CEO Roger Ailes—refused to intervene as they were forced to endure “years-long relentless racial animus” at the hands of a white manager. We speak to Arisha Hatch, managing director of campaigns at Color of Change, which has organized a major campaign calling on advertisers to boycott “The O’Reilly Factor.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, we’re also joined by Arisha Hatch, managing director of campaigns at Color of Change, which has just launched a major campaign calling on advertisers to boycott The O’Reilly Factor.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Arisha. Can you talk about this campaign, what you’re calling for?

ARISHA HATCH: Yes. Thank you so much for having me.

We’ve actually been running this campaign for several years now, demanding that advertisers divest from Bill O’Reilly’s show, given the level of language, the level of hostility that we see him pursue on a daily basis, and, obviously, a number of claims that have come out from women and many others about the hostile work environment that they’re enduring there at Fox.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what’s been the response to the campaign so far? Have advertisers, lots of advertisers, pulled out?

ARISHA HATCH: Yes. I think the count this morning is over 50 have pulled out thus far, of about 100 current advertisers. And so, there’s tons of progress that’s been made. And we’re continuing to contact advertisers, to make our case for why we don’t feel like they should be enabling this type of behavior and these types of settlements. And currently we’re focused on a number of corporations that still haven’t done the right thing.

AMY GOODMAN: A third Fox News Channel employee has just joined two colleagues in their lawsuit that says they were subjected to racial discrimination by an executive, who, just before they filed the lawsuit, was fired in March. Can you talk about what happened and who these employees of Fox are?

ARISHA HATCH: Yes. There have recently been—it’s recently been reported, and we’ve been in contact with three black women who are making racial discrimination claims, not directly related to the O’Reilly show, but through other executives at Fox. We’re talking to them later, but they’re describing tons of racial animus, racial epithets and just a general pervasive hostility towards black people, black women especially, that they’ve encountered. And that’s why I think this conversation around what O’Reilly has done and said in the past, and the advertisers that support him, really extends beyond The Factor. But an advertiser just moving their money away from O’Reilly’s show to another show on Fox News really doesn’t get the job done, because what we’re seeing, time and time again, is a pervasive, persistent hostile work environment for anybody that’s considered an other or outside the norm.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, on Wednesday, one of the plaintiffs, Tichaona Brown, told Good Morning America her employer’s mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement was the tipping point.

TICHAONA BROWN: Essentially, walking down the hallway, if you encountered any—if you encountered Judith Slater, she would put up her hands in this, you know, motion, I guess, mocking the Black Lives Matter movement, walking into the bathroom, even saying “good night” to her. At night, she required us to say “good night” at 6:00, or whatever time you’re leaving, and instead of saying “good night” back, it’s “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Arisha, can you talk about what she said and what she alleges was happening at Fox News?

ARISHA HATCH: Yes. And I think she describes the incident, and many of these women are describing several incidents, very articulately and very well. But I think what she’s describing is an existing racial animus and bias that is targeted and creates an unsustainable work environment for people that are just trying to do their jobs, just trying to feed their families.

And while it’s sad, incredibly sad, that these women have had to endure this, it’s not surprising. It’s not surprising that this is happening behind the camera, because we see so much of this sort of hostility and animus in front of the camera. And, you know, that’s why I think this sort of campaign is so important. That’s why I think corporate advertisers should take a second thought about continuing to support and enable this type of behavior, because consumers don’t want it. And many of the things that we’re hearing coming out of Fox News are behaviors that these own advertisers, these own corporations, would not tolerate at their companies.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Arisha Hatch, we want to thank you so much for being with us. On Monday, by the way, another Fox News contributor, Julie Roginsky, sued Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox, for repeated sexual harassment. Arisha Hatch is managing director of campaigns at Color of Change, which has just launched a major campaign calling on advertisers to boycott The O’Reilly Factor. Actually, it has been going on for some time. And, Lisa Bloom, thanks so much for being with us, a civil rights attorney at The Bloom Firm who represents Dr. Wendy Walsh, one of the women who has publicly accused Bill O’Reilly of unwanted sexual advances. April, as declared by President Donald Trump, is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back on China in a minute.

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