A small group of protesters gathered outside Fox News headquarters in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday to demand that the network to fire its star anchor because of sexual harassment allegations.
The group, which amounted to few than 100 people, chanted “Fire Him” and “Fire Bill O’Reilly” and heard from speakers who testified to personal experience with sexual harassment and assault.
O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ top-rated “The O’Reilly Factor,” has denied the merits of the allegations but acknowledged that he entered into settlements with five women over the years to protect his family. Fox News is in the midst of an investigation of a harassment claim made by former “O’Reilly Factor” contributor Wendy Walsh. O’Reilly has been on vacation since April 12. He’s scheduled to return to his show on Monday, although it is understood that O’Reilly’s fate at the network is the subject of debate among 21st Century Fox leaders James Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch and their father, Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Tuesday’s protest was organized by the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet. Some in the group held signs representing the National Organization for Women and civil rights org Color of Change.
Joanna Oltman Smith, a community activist from Brooklyn, held a homemade sign with a mirror attached and the message “You are beautiful. You deserve respect.”
“I have personal experience with harassment early in my career,” she said. “I would like to spare other young women from having to go through what I went through.”
Carol Barash, the founder and head of New York City-based digital firm Story2 and a member of UltraViolet, said that O’Reilly’s status as a public figure made it that much more important for a public outcry.
“This is bigger than women, this is bigger than gender,” Barash said. “This is about fundamental human rights for all people in the workplace.” She voted that orgs like UltraViolet “will keep demanding change until there is change.”
Barry Solow, a retired computer executive from New York City, held a sign with O’Reilly’s picture and the warning: “Danger. Sexual predator works here.” Solow said he was motivated to join the protest to demonstrate that women are not the only ones outraged by the allegations against O’Reilly. “I’m here to help assert that manhood is not assaulting or harassing women,” he said. “It’s reprehensible no matter who does it or where it happens. Consequences must be paid.”