|Fox News’ decision to fire Bill O’Reilly amid mounting claims of sexual harassment doesn’t just rock the conservative media world — it rattles the foundations of a movement that gave rise to President Donald Trump.
Two key paragraphs from CNN’s Chris Cillizza on O’Reilly’s role in creating a party Trump could conquer: “Yes, lower taxes and smaller government still mattered. But populism, wariness of elites and a deep and abiding distrust in the mainstream media also became core tenets of modern conservatism as imagined by O’Reilly and (Roger) Ailes. Democrats became the party of Hollywood and elites — in the media, in business, in entertainment. Republicans were the ones fighting for the little guy who felt left behind and scolded by those very people.
“That rising conservative populism eventually gave birth to a candidate named Donald Trump. Trump embodied many of the principles that O’Reilly had popularized over the years — most notably a visceral rejection of political correctness and a willingness to blame most of the problems in the country on a biased and liberal media.”
Trump brought up O’Reilly — as CNN’s MJ Lee notes — on his own in a recent interview with The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush. Despite the well-publicized accusations of sexual harassment — something both men have faced — Trump called O’Reilly a “good person.”
O’Reilly shouldn’t have kept his job this long, writes The Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel — who notes that sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly and millions of dollars in payouts have long been known. She tells a personal story of O’Reilly dispatching his sidekick Jesse Watters to track Terkel down while on a personal vacation. “And despite O’Reilly’s attempt to ruin me, unlike him, I still have a job today,” she writes.