Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says she is happy to see the departure of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News.
“I am glad to see him leave the network,” she said during an appearance on Boston Public Radio today, adding a caveat: “It’s a little late,” she said. “I don’t know how many more incidents they needed to become aware of to take that action.”
Healey said O’Reilly’s behavior represents a larger problem — the normalization of sexual harassment and discrimination.
“You think about the misogyny that’s pervasive in everyday interactions, and ... at some point, I think that this becomes just accepted as this is the way it is, this is something we have to endure, something we have to put up with,” she said. “Unfortunately that’s affirmed and reaffirmed time and time again when you see people who have been called out and not otherwise held accountable for really bad actions.”
O’Reilly and Fox settled with five women from the network who alleged sexual assault or inappropriate behavior before his dismissal. The settlements totaled about $13 million.
The women complained of unwanted advances, lewd comments and inappropriate phone calls, among other misconduct.
After news broke of O’Reilly’s settlements, Fox faced public pressure to fire him, including from advertisers that backed out of agreements with the network.
Fox News dismissed O’Reilly on Wednesday.
Healey praised Fox, which is run by the Murdoch family, for holding its company accountable to standards set regarding the network’s culture.
“What’s good to me is to see women coming forward and reporting, and actions being taken. That’s where we need the accountability,” she said. “The burden is not on the women and the girls here. The burden is on those who would perpetrate and engage in sexual harassment to begin with, and behaviors and conduct that is degrading and dehumanizing.”
Healey’s office filed a discrimination complaint against a diner in Hadley earlier this month. Her office has also tackled issues like dating violence and domestic abuse to “break some of the stigma.”
“Women need to know that if they come forward, their claims are going to be taken seriously,” she said. “We need to show consequence, we need to show accountability, and we need to train and retrain in terms of what is acceptable and unacceptable in the world.”
Attorney General Maura Healey joins us every month for Ask the AG. To hear her interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.