US Rep. Maxine Waters: Bill O'Reilly 'needs to go to jail'

In the wake of a New York Times report revealing $13 million in settlements for sexual harassment cases against Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly and President Donald Trump's vocal defense of the pundit, Rep. Maxine Waters, D- Calif., called for both men's imprisonment Wednesday night.

The rapid defection of advertisers this week from Bill O'Reilly's show because of sexual harassment allegations raises what once seemed an unthinkable question: Can O'Reilly survive at Fox News Channel?

"Personally I think he shouldn't have settled", Trump said.

The company normally doesn't advertise on shows that do political commentary, and it has suspended all of its Fox ads until it can be sure none are shown on O'Reilly's show, a spokesman said.

"We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve", company officials said in a statement. And they can do that because O'Reilly attracts more than 3.5 million viewers nightly.

The problem of workplace sexual harassment certainly isn't unique to O'Reilly or Fox News. In 2011, political commentator Glen Beck was dropped from his Fox News show after his increasingly controversial comments made him unattractive to advertisers. In recent days, suits have been filed accusing a former Fox comptroller of racist behavior and former Fox News chief Roger Ailes of sexually harassing a current Fox News contributor. TV ad buyer and DirectAvenue CEO Scott Kowalchek is the first TV ad executive to publicly call on the network to fire O'Reilly; he also urges other TV ad execs to take an ethical stand against unethical conduct by the conservative firebrand.

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"At this time, we have no plans to change our advertising strategy", the company told CNN Money.

Specifically, "Bill O'Reilly needs to go to jail". Sexual assault and harassment are larger societal problems, and while the outrage now aimed at O'Reilly is valid and necessary, advertisers should be sure they don't lose sight of the the bigger picture.

Still, neither Fox News or O'Reilly have addressed the matter on the air and the latter is still largely seen as the face of the entire right-leaning network.

Waters, who O'Reilly mocked on-air last week by saying her hair looked like a "James Brown wig, added that Trump and the Fox News host were "two of a kind".

In 2011, Fox News terminated its contract with Glenn Beck after 200 companies pulled their advertisements. O'Reilly is just one (albeit very public) example of what happens when organizations condone and enable systemic sexual harassment.

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