CBS focusing more on ad loss instead of Trump defense of O’Reilly

When President Donald Trump defended Bill O’Reilly, ABC and NBC treated it as a major story. CBS barely mentioned it.

On April 5, the network evening newscasts reported O’Reilly and Fox News paid $13 million in sexual harassment settlements and that President Donald Trump defended O’Reilly in a New York Times article published the same day. But CBS decided to focus more on the loss in advertising than Trump’s defense.

ABC World News Tonight highlighted two quotes from the article. He first says, “I think he’s a person I know well – He is a good person.”

Then, “Personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

Almost 50 companies have pulled ads from “The O’Reilly Factor.”

ABC’s story then showed Trump’s previous defense of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes: “They’re saying these horrible things about him. It’s very sad because he a very good person.”

ABC showed clips from the 2005 Access Hollywood tapes and said, “But just a month before the election it was Trump under fire for that infamous Access Hollywood Tape where he talked about groping women.”

The story showed O’Reilly and Trump calling the content of the tape “locker room” and “crude guy” talk.

Is mentioning Trumps past going too far and would Trump supporters would find it inappropriate?

Producer at CBS Sunday Morning Jay Kernis says it’s not going to far.

“Given the context of this election and what Trump stands for and what’s gone on at Fox [News], Ailes and then O’Reilly, I don’t think it was too far to mention it [Trump’s past],” said Kernis. “I think there are many Trump supporters that find any criticism of the president inappropriate.”

NBC Nightly News also focused on O’Reilly and Trumps friendship. It highlighted Trump’s defense of O’Reilly by showing two pictures of them watching a baseball game together and Trump calling O’Reilly “a good person.”

Screenshot from NBC News Youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh1yBHAYsp8

The story then showed Attorney Lisa Bloom representing former Fox contributor Wendy Walsh, “who claims O’Reilly harassed her.”

“Trump has been accused of unwanted sexual conduct in the past and denied it,” NBC correspondent Anne Thompson said. “His comments about an actress during an Access Hollywood taping almost derailed his presidential campaign.”

Thompson reported O’Reilly’s claim that he settled to protect his children. She also noted that Trump had proclaimed April as National Sexual Assault and Prevention Month.

What is Trump’s past alleged sexual harassment adding to the O’Reilly story? Does it help spread awareness of this issue?

Publisher for “The Tyndall Report” Andrew Tyndall says sexual harassment in the workplace is a worthy topic for a nightly news broadcast.

“If you believe that Trump’s behavior and attitudes should never be treated as acceptable and require constant reminders to avoid ‘normalization’ then it is not only appropriate to mention Trump’s past behavior in the context of his support for O’Reilly, but obligatory,” Tyndall said. “If you think that the O’Reilly story is a one-day celebrity scandal with very little bearing on the Trump Presidency, then Trump’s support of O’Reilly is hardly newsworthy — and probably should not have been given even the little time that CBS afforded it.”

ABC’s story was two minutes long, and NBC’s was a minute and forty-five seconds. CBS Evening News spent 35 seconds on the story, and only 13 seconds were on Trump’s defense.

“At least 44 sponsors have dropped Bill O’Reilly’s show on the Fox News channel,” anchor Scott Pelley said. “Advertisers have been leaving since the New York Times reported O’Reilly and Fox paid $13 million to settle various sexual harassment claims, all denied by O’Reilly.”

Screenshot from dropbox. https://www.dropbox.com/s/nwfy1ec1wy2ydvg/4%3A5%20CBS%20Pt.%202%20%20on%20O%27Reilly.mov?dl=0

CBS focused on the ad loss, labeling it “Losing Advertisers” and displayed logos of several companies that stopped sponsoring the show.

Pelley concluded by saying Trump came to the defense of O’Reilly and quoted the two statements that were featured in the newspaper article.

Was CBS missing the bigger story or were they saying that Trump’s defense of O’Reilly is insignificant?

Kernis said how much coverage a story gets depends on the amount of time the network has left in the broadcast and how much they have to write it.

“It does seem there was more to tell and it does seem that CBS was shorter than the others, but for reasons we don’t know,” Kernis said. “They may have felt other stories were more important, so they gave it that shortness.”

More from the Pros:

  • Jay Kernis
    • “I think all three networks assumed we knew who O’Reilly was and what his meaning to American journalism and culture is and what his behavior in the past has been like. The only thing I would have made sure is there were more details about O’Reilly and his behavior.”
  • Andrew Tyndall
    • “Many Trump supporters are enthusiastic fans of O’Reilly and his worldview,” Tyndall said. “It is possible that such people would consider the Access Hollywood video to be a perverse badge of honor — a rebellious thumb in the eye to feminist prudes who want to censor lusty Alpha Males.”
    • “O’Reilly is, after all, the most-watched personality on cable news and may lose his job as a consequence of the scandal. So the revelations are worthy of mention once (like CBS). But certainly not three times (like NBC).”
    • “There is certainly a story here about the possible harm to FOX News Channel’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, because of its loss of advertising revenue. But it is hardly a story that rises to the level of impact that warrants attention from the nightly newscasts. The defection of advertisers is a business story for the media trade press, not for a general audience. Concentrating on that aspect misleadingly inflates its importance.”
    • “The Sexual Assault Awareness Month reference was added to point out the irony of the timing of the story, not to enlighten viewers about the month’s underlying message.”
Shelby Smith

Shelby Smith

Shelby Smith is a senior double major in Multi-platform Journalism and Film Studies at the University of Maryland. She was a sports copy editor for Unwind Magazine and has interned for Washington Gardener Magazine. She has studied how to capture, edit and upload pictures, videos and audio at College Park. Smith has reported on several beats, including politics, courts and city council meetings. She hopes to graduate this Spring, start her own entertainment podcast and to find a job as a public relations person in the film industry.

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