Bill O’Reilly says Roger Ailes always had his back. And that was precisely the problem.

Disgraced former Fox News host Bill OReilly writes in an op-ed for USA Today: When stuff hit the fan, as it will when you are doing daily political commentary in a polarized nation, Roger [Ailes] had my back. The founding chief of Fox News died at age 77, kicking off a round of polarized appreciations and condemnations.

Truer words have never come from OReilly, who, like Ailes, left Fox News after sustaining allegations of sexual harassment. The timing for OReilly was unfortunate. His big problems landed just weeks ago, after the New York Times reported that he had been involved in five settlements over the years over allegations of sexual harassment or plain workplace mistreatment. Ailes had already been ousted from the network he left last July and wasnt there to make excuses for OReilly this time, as he was for the lions share of OReillys two-decade-plus career at Fox News.

He defended me in public even while sometimes mocking me in private, writes OReilly in USA Today. He was genuine, charismatic, profane, generous and sincere in his beliefs. He could be brutal verbally but if you were straight with him, he would protect you.

Oh, Mr. OReilly, we know how he would protect you. He protected you after very well-substantiated questions in 2015 emerged about your tales of reporting in conflict zones across the globe. Credible folks contradicted your accounts; your explanation was that politically motivated liberals were attacking you. And Ailes had your back. Fox News Chairman & CEO Roger Ailes and all senior management are in full support of Bill OReilly, asserted a statement from the network.

And the steadfast support of Ailes surely comforted OReilly as he allegedly mistreated co-workers, as documented by the New York Times.

In return, OReilly forcefully defended Ailes after the Fox News chief himself came under fire last July as a result of a sexual harassment lawsuit from former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson. In this country, every famous, powerful or wealthy person is a target. Youre a target, OReilly said last July on Seth Meyerss late-night show. Im a target. Anytime somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press or anything like that. Until America and thats a deplorable situation … adopts the English system of civil law whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs. Until we adopt that very fair proposition, were going to have this out-of-control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive. I stand behind Roger 100 percent.

With Ailess passing ends this most unsavory of friendships: Roger Ailes and Bill OReilly, two aging, super-rich guys who were both accused of using their status as news big shots to pursue sexual encounters. Though journalists often pine for a boss wholl have their back, its an overrated trait in the news business. The loyalties of news executives must extend to ethics and the imperatives of journalism, not to the careerism of some bigoted hack who just happens to score high ratings.

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