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Bill O’Reilly Is Gone, But Is His Replacement Any Better?

Bill O’Reilly Epilogue Amanda Kerri

Fox has replaced America's awful uncle with its awful nephew, Tucker Carlson, writes Amanda Kerri.

By now you've heard that Bill "We'll do it live" O'Reilly has lost his show on the Fox News Channel. Bill went on vacation as more and more allegations of sexual harassment and secret payoffs to silence accusers came pouring in. Advertisers continued to bail from his show as it became increasingly toxic to be associated with the man, and by the end, O'Reilly was reduced to those cash-for-gold websites and mail-order catheters. I would call this an ignominious end to a long career, but that's reserved for his final segment. That would be where he smugly corrected the grammar of an 8-year-old who had written to him. Yeah, talking crap to a child on national television. Which honestly sounds about right.

O'Reilly really was one of the most awful people on television. This is a man who told a black man with a Ph.D. in African-American studies who taught at Columbia that he looked like a drug dealer. Being the grossly misinformed man that he was, he suggested that there was a link between being gay and being a pedophile. Once he not only deliberately misgendered a transgender prison inmate but mocked their looks. He complained that Glee encouraged kids to be gay and whined about pro football player Michael Sam's "gay thing." He also said that the gays started the so-called war on Christmas. That's hilarious in its own right, 'cause what could be gayer than decorating, competitive shopping, and a fat bear with a beard who's into boots and buckles? When he went to attack antidiscrimination ordinances, he compared gay people to the Ku Klux Klan and called letting trans people use the bathroom of their correct gender insane.

Now, some people might try to defend O'Reilly, since occasionally he would defend individual gay people or consider some forms of discrimination wrong. Eventually O'Reilly even kind of, sort of (but not really) came around on same-sex marriage. Yet you've got to remember, people can come up with good things to say about truly awful people like Stalin, Hitler, and the guy who tailgates you in the right-hand lane. For years, O'Reilly railed against LGBT people, insulted them, and likened them to people into bestiality. But think about all the other things he's done for a moment. He's blamed rape victims for their assaults, praised slavery, said black people deserved to be profiled by the police. There was the time he told the son of a 9/11 victim he had more respect for his father than the son did. For years O'Reilly directly attacked abortion provider George Tiller by name until someone went to the doctor's church and shot him in the head. He considered immigration a means to "break down the white Christian male power structure."

O'Reilly really was America's awful uncle that we were stuck with. For years, the man helped shape the dialogue of the right in America with his show on Fox. An indication of his power is that he had one of the highest-rated cable news shows, a fact he often would brag about. Well, let's be honest, when liberal and moderate folks have several other networks to chose from, in addition to online media, you're going to corner the market on people in their 60s who don't know how to use a smartphone. His influence and admittedly high degree of charisma warranted regular appearances from people on the left who would go on and debate him and regularly make him look so foolish that the phrase "Cut his mike" became his other notorious line, in addition to "Fuck it, we'll do it live." People such as President Obama and Hillary Clinton would do his show in what could only be some sort of masochistic effort to be seen as fair and balanced, something O'Reilly never was.

Yet now it's all over. After years of being racist, sexist, homophobic, generally ignorant, and made to look like a fool on his own show, his liability exceeded his worth. After it came to light that Fox had settled no less than five sexual harassment lawsuits to the tune of $13 million, and that O'Reilly had likely harassed dozens more -- even allegedly making ape-like grunting noises at a black woman -- Fox finally decided to send the man packing. Now Fox News is facing numerous allegations of sexual harassment and covering up payouts to silence victims, which has led to an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in New York City. The original attorney investigating was an Obama appointee and was fired by Donald Trump, a huge fan of Fox News. The world that O'Reilly spent 20 years in was so toxic that even Mama Bear Sarah Palin criticized its culture. Yet it will endure.

I say this because Fox, in its brilliant attempt to save face, has replaced America's worst uncle with America's worst nephew, Tucker Carlson. Carlson, the man who has finally killed the bow tie for good, has said that Democrats"made up" the concept of sexual harassment. He's blamed the victims of harassment and said a Teen Vogue writer who totally schooled him should stick to writing about thigh-high boots. Clearly the man's only encounter with women in boots must be '80s prostitute cliches. He also once said that Hillary Clinton was castrating and defended Trump's "grab them by the pussy" comments. He praised smoking in old cartoons as a symbol of freedom and complained about Wonder Woman being allowed to wear pants. To add an extra creep factor, he doesn't believe statutory rape exists and even thinks women teachers having sex with their male students is kind of cool. But if you're curious about his views on LGBT people, he regularly brags about the time he was propositioned in a men's room and left to get a friend to come back and beat the man.

So after 20 years on air, the 67-year-old sexist, racist, homophobic bigot we've come to know and love is leaving us. We now get the 47-year-old sexist, racist, homophobic bigot whose greatest moment before now was getting so thoroughly humiliated by Jon Stewart his show got canceled. Our awful uncle is now replaced by our awful nephew. Is it just me. or does anyone else hate that side of the family?

Amanda-kerrix100_0AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian living in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @EternalKerri.

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