What Happens When You Criticize O'Reilly?

Did you know that criticizing a serial liar, sexual harasser, homophobe, and all-around prick like Bill O’Reilly could get you fired? Well, obviously not from my job, but it happened to veteran TV newsman Barry Nolan after he decided to protest a New England media association’s decision to give Bill O’Reilly the Governors Award, its highest honor, at this year’s Emmy Awards ceremony. Nolan explained his decision in a guest blog on ThinkProgress:


O’Reilly was an appalling choice, not because of his political views, but because he simply gets the facts wrong, abuses his guests and the powerless in general, is delusional, and, well, you might want to Google: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Plus there was that whole sexual harassment thing – the lawsuit he settled for an estimated $10 million. Not the kind of guy you normally think of when it comes time to pass out honors.
I found that most of my colleagues felt the same way. So, on May 10th at the Emmy Awards dinner, I quietly passed out a document that contained – not my opinion – but O’Reilly’s own words and quotes from his sexual harassment lawsuit. And that is what got me fired. I got fired from my job on a news and information network for reporting demonstrably true things in a room full of news people. -snip-
And it all got me to thinking about the myth of free speech. In today’s America, speech is only “free” when you are talking down to someone less powerful that you. Speak “up” – and look out.
CN8, the company that employed Nolan, had no comment on why Nolan was fired. CN8 is owned by Comcast.

Since when is correctly identifying BOR for what he is, using his own words and actions, an offense that could cost you your job? Nolan wasn’t on the air when he did it, nor was his quiet protest in violation of any law or company policy.

Now I’m sure some might say, “Well, the company has a right to fire whoever they want for whatever reason.” To which I’d say, “Why?” Why do companies have rights to do anything? A company is a legal construct, not a person. Do the “rights” of a non-human legal construct somehow trump the rights of an actual person who was engaging in activities explicitly protected and encouraged by the Constitution, the foundation upon which this country was built? Americans like Nolan need their rights protected, not corporations.

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