Longtime Trump ally and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy joins a growing right-wing effort to revive the career of disgraced Fox News host Bill O'Reilly.
But what finally did him in and led to Fox belatedly firing him was the revelation earlier this year that the right-wing media darling is a serial sexual predator whose misconduct, dating back to 2002, cost $13 million in sexual harassment settlements, several involving O'Reilly's coworkers. Donald Trump defended O'Reilly, saying O'Reilly "is a good person," and that he didn't "think Bill did anything wrong."
Since then, we've learned of a sixth settlement, worth $32 million, that Fox knew about when it renewed O'Reilly's contract earlier this year.
But now one right-wing pro-Trump media owner wants to put him back on the air permanently.
Politico reports that Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, is meeting next week with O’Reilly to discuss hiring him for a new show.
“We don’t think Bill O’Reilly’s career is over,” said Ruddy. “He does have a market. We’re very interested and exploring looking at that. He’s a significant talent.”
Ruddy is a friend of Trump’s, who is referred to as the “Trump Whisperer.” Under his leadership, Newsmax has been heavily aligned with Trump.
The idea of bringing O’Reilly back on the air is as outrageous as it revealing. In recent weeks, Newsmax, along with Fox News and other right-wing media outlets, have used the sexual misconduct scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein as an opportunity for virtue signaling and finger-pointing. The same networks that excused Trump's admission of sexual misconduct gleefully used the Weinstein scandal to attack liberals, ignoring their own complicity in similar cases.
Getting O'Reilly off the air was a hard won triumph for both his victims and for women more broadly. But GOP media figures have fought since then to drag O’Reilly back into national relevance, with Sean Hannity bringing him onto his show for an interview.
Ruddy's willingness to give a whole new show to an accused serial sexual predator is symptomatic of a larger problem.
When the accused can be connected to liberals or the Democratic Party, Republicans and right-wing media say the pervasive problem of sexual assault should be taken seriously. But when it involves one of their own, they not only stay silent — they actually advocate for the accused.
Republicans refuse to distance themselves from O’Reilly for the same reason they refuse to distance themselves from the sexual predator now sitting in the Oval Office: Because for them, "family values" is nothing but a slogan, and party principles are nothing more than politically convenient talking points.