Last Tuesday night, Bill O’Reilly went on what he said was a pre-planned trip to Europe while in the middle of a firestorm over allegations that he sexually harassed dozens of women. Although he didn’t know it at the time, it would be the last time he appeared on Fox News Channel. On Wednesday, Fox News announced O’Reilly had been fired, effective immediately. On Thursday afternoon, the woman who was largely responsible for spinning out the No Spin Zone told the world how she pulled it off.
Soon after Fox News announced O’Reilly was out, longtime civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, who represented three of O’Reilly’s accusers, took a victory lap.
When women speak our truth the old order shatters.
We slayed the dragon.
Never forget this is what we're capable ofhttps://t.co/d2cxkPGyBP
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) April 19, 2017
Here is my victory statement. pic.twitter.com/TQLC6Oz9gk
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) April 19, 2017
On Thursday, the “anonymous accuser” revealed herself to be Perquita Burgess, a former temporary clerical worker at Fox News. She accused O’Reilly of directing inappropriate noises and comments toward her when she worked at Fox in 2008. Burgess, with Bloom by her side, gave her first public interview on Thursday’s edition of “The View.” Watch here.
Burgess said that she didn’t report O’Reilly’s behavior at the time out of fear that it would damage her reputation with her temp agency. However, she could no longer bear “reliving the trauma every time I saw a woman speak out,” and decided to come forward to keep others from being harassed. Bloom stressed that Burgess had no intention of seeking any money from O’Reilly even without the statute of limitations having expired.
Shortly after that, Bloom dropped by “Democracy Now!” to discuss how she brought O’Reilly down. Watch here.
Bloom told hosts Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh that Wendy Walsh, whose decision to come forward set O’Reilly’s ouster in motion, came to her soon after The New York Times expressed interest in her story a few months ago. A number of Walsh’s friends thought that it wasn’t worth the risk, but Bloom told her to fight–not just for her sake, but for the sake of her daughters and other women.
Bloom promised Walsh two things–she would represent Walsh pro bono, and “we are going to bring him down.” She added that when the story broke three weeks ago, there was “a media and a legal strategy in place.” As she put it, “the plan went flawlessly”–it resulted in a man who had been one of the titans of cable news for 20 years being cut down to size in 18 days.
How did they do it? First, Bloom was determined to keep Walsh’s claims from being “a one-day story.” She also knew that there were more accusers out there and needed to encourage them to come forward. To that end, she held a press conference with Walsh, and encouraged other accusers to get in touch with her. Once more accusers came forward, Bloom planned to dribble the story out “day by day” in hopes of “giving the story legs.”
We saw part of that strategy play out in real time over the next week. On April 9, Bloom appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and hinted that more accusers could potentially come forward.
— Reliable Sources (@ReliableSources) April 9, 2017
And when O’Reilly announced he was going on vacation, Bloom appeared on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” and fired two shots across the Murdochs’ bow. Not only were there going to be more lawsuits, but she had asked the New York State Division of Human Rights to investigate the culture at the fair and balanced network.
As it turned out, a second accuser called Bloom within a few days of the press conference with Walsh. Bloom took considerable time vetting her and interviewing three corroborating witnesses. This accuser also got nervous, but Bloom flew to her home in North Carolina to buck her up. The second accuser finally came forward a few days ago. Then came a third, and a fourth.
Those appearances on CNN and MSNBC were part of a larger strategy–to deliver a warning to the Murdochs.
“We are not going to let this go. We are going to persist.”
Apparently the appearance of drip drip drip worked. When this first broke, Rupert Murdoch was reluctant to dump O’Reilly, as was his older son, Lachlan. However, Rupert’s younger son, James, wanted O’Reilly gone right then. However, as more accusers came forward, Lachlan changed his mind. By Tuesday afternoon, the scuttlebutt was that O’Reilly was on the way out. By Wednesday afternoon, O’Reilly was finished.
To hear the likes of Roger Stone talk, the efforts of Bloom and others amounted to an attack on free speech. Stone couldn’t be more wrong. This is a textbook example of free speech in action–victims standing up to a bully.
(featured image courtesy Bloom’s Twitter)