In a week in which former Fox News conservative foghorn and serial sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly has desperately tried to fend off the onslaught of disastrous news, completely deserved mockery, and bile-inducing details of his apparently Mr. Hyde-like past behavior, two former colleagues took to the late-night airwaves to add to his heaven-haranguing headaches. On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, introduced by Colbert as “a current activist in the fight to stop sexual harassment,” didn’t mention O’Reilly by name, but was unsparing in her depiction of the “cult”-like atmosphere under deceased and disgraced Fox News head Roger Ailes. Carlson, who famously earned both a $20 million settlement and an unambiguous public apology from Fox for Ailes’ predatory behavior and the corporate culture that abetted it, was there partly to plug her new book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment And Take Your Power Back, and reminded Colbert that, as part of that settlement, she was unable to give too many details about what working at Fox News was like. But, as she said, the court documents are public and available to anyone with Google. And a strong stomach.
On Late Night With Seth Meyers, Carlson’s erstwhile Fox News colleague Megyn Kelly went into more detail about O’Reilly, who recently whipped out a single thank-you card each from her and Carlson to prove that he could never, ever, under any circumstances, be a loathsome, power-abusing sex predator in the workplace. Rebutting that noise, Kelly told Meyers that O’Reilly’s move is “right out of the playbook” of powerful men looking to cover their sleazy asses, pointing out that the workplace power structure provides cover—both blatant and subtle—for the men who built and operate within it. Plus, she asked why O’Reilly made a point of keeping two thank-you notes for years, to which Meyers posited, “It might be that he’s only ever gotten the two.” Saying that O’Reilly dragging her name into his feeble defense (along with the report that Fox rehired O’Reilly even after it came out that he’d paid a $32 million personal settlement to another Fox contributor, Lis Wiehl) prompted her to speak out on her own NBC show this week, Kelly called bullshit on current 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch’s claim that he didn’t know about the O’Reilly contract offer, saying that even if Fox didn’t know, they damned well should have before “unleashing him on the workforce.”
Both interviews saw Colbert and Meyers praising Carlson and Kelly for their bravery in coming forward—an encouraging current trend suggesting that the gross, slobbering genie is not going back in the bottle when it comes to sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment and news industries. But each host also had to address the fact that, while employed at Fox News, both their guests were subject to Colbert’s and Meyers’ longstanding tradition of mocking those who use the Fox News pulpit to attack those who speak out on various issues—including sexual harassment by, among others, Fox News poster boy Donald Trump. Carlson responded to Colbert’s direct question about Trump’s widely reported (and, you know, recorded and admitted) terrible treatment of women by telling him that one of Trump’s accusers—People reporter Natasha Stoynoff—is, in fact, interviewed as part of her book. (Carlson did flinch at Colbert’s question of how she, an accomplished scholar and musician, could work in an environment like Fox that is both “fiercely anti-intellectual” and “anti-expert.”) As for Kelly, whose outspoken criticism of Trump’s misogyny was always paired with her own history of incendiary race-baiting, gay-bashing, and other Fox-ian hypocrisy, the current NBC employee told Meyers that she’s decided to more or less opt out of the “soul-killing” world of politics. As for her former workplace, Kelly did leave one final shot at O’Reilly at least, telling Meyers, “Fox has a lot of good people. He is not one of them.”