Patton Oswalt, Brie Larson, Bette Midler and other celebrities are lending their Twitter influence to the campaign against Bill O’Reilly, following reports that five women who accused the Fox News host of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior received $13 million in settlements.
This as O’Reilly’s case is entering full-blown scandal territory, with 11 advertisers fleeing his juggernaut show, “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Oswalt, whose smart and opinionated feed has made him one of Hollywood’s best voices on Twitter, posted just 16 characters — but the message was loud and clear: “ticktickticktick.”
Larson, a longtime advocate for sexual assault survivors, let her silence speak volumes — just as it did after Casey Affleck’s Best Actor Oscar win. The “Room” Oscar-winner tweeted out a statement from Mercedes-Benz, the first of O’Reilly’s advertisers to pull its ads from show, in which a spokesperson for the car company called the allegations “disturbing.” Larson didn’t comment.
“The Mindy Project” star Ike Barinholtz told his followers that “Bill O’Reilly is about three days away from the Slanklet being his sole advertiser,” referring to the blanket with sleeves.
Also on Monday, former “The Newsroom” producer Jon Lovett tore into Fox News over the O’Reilly allegations, saying the network was “despicable” and “evil” on “Pod Save America,” the podcast he co-hosts.
O’Reilly’s problems are mounting quickly: A flurry of advertisers announced they’re dropping his show in the last 24 hours.
Along with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Consumer Care, Allstate, asset management firm T. Rowe Price, Untuckit, email marketer Constant Contact and Ainsworth Pet Nutrition pulled their commercials, according to NBC News.
“It’s over,” said Chad Kawalec, an advertising expert and founder of the Los Angeles-based Brand Identity Center, in an interview with TheWrap. “This is equivalent to a consumer boycott. As soon as Fox stops making money with O’Reilly, they’ll stop supporting it and ultimately phase it out.”
But O’Reilly’s scandal is now veering beyond just advertisers and Hollywood stars. Shannon Coulter, the organizer of the #GrabYourWallet boycott, which successfully went after Donald Trump, is now considering adding Bill O”Reilly to her campaign.
After some of her fellow boycotters asked if she would adding O’Reilly to her campaign, Coulter posted a question poll: “Should
#GrabYourWallet add Bill O’Reilly’s remaining advertisers to the boycott list?”
Of the close to 1,000 people who answered so far, a decisive 87 percent said “Absolutely, yes! Do it!” Only 13 percent opted for, “No. Focus on Trump brand.”
As TheWrap first reported, “Celebrity Apprentice,” executive produced by Trump, lost half of its sponsors thanks to Coulter boycott.
And Twitter handle @StopOReilly is urging advertisers by name to drop the Fox News host.
So far, O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity,” he wrote on his website on Friday. “In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.”
And Fox News told TheWrap in a statement on Tuesday: “We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about the O’Reilly Factor. At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
“The O’Reilly Factor” has been cable news’ top show for years, generating hundreds of millions in ad revenue. However, for the last three weeks Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show has beaten “The O’Reilly Factor” as the most-watched show in cable news among the key demographic of adults age 25-54.
In any case, according to Kawalec, it would be hard for O’Reilly or Fox News to turn back the wheel, adding that the corporations who dropped the show, don’t make these decisions lightly.
This is the second controversy for O’Reilly in recent days. Last week, the Fox News host was forced to issue an apology to California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, following a wave of criticism about comments he had made about her hair on “Fox and Friends,” which many deemed racist.
“This is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back,” Kawalec said. “He would have to be completely exonerated of all charges to woo back any company looking to market themselves to women.”