Is a ‘culture change’ in store at cable network?

21st-Century Fox made it official today: Bill O’Reilly, the company’s No. 1 blowhard and ratings juggernaut is gone.

He won’t be returning from his “long-planned vacation,” which commenced suddenly in the middle of this past week.

The reason for O’Reilly’s departure? A steady stream of negative publicity relating to sexual harassment complaints leveled against the veteran TV talk-show host.

O’Reilly paid out millions of bucks to women who had filed the complaints, all the while maintaining his innocence. Interesting, yes? Well, I think so. Fox News Channel coughed up a lot of cash, too, to women who had griped about O’Reilly’s treatment of them.

These media stories usually become the stuff of inter-network gossip. Competing networks — chiefly CNN and MSNBC — have had a field day covering this story for their audiences; Fox, meanwhile, hasn’t done much reporting at all on the difficulties that O’Reilly has brought to the network.

He’s gone now.

For me, it’s no great loss. I quit listening to O’Reilly a couple of Christmas seasons ago when he would allege that some phony “war on Christmas” was being waged by the “mainstream media” and assorted “left-wing pinheads.”

O’Reilly will get a big chunk of cash for, essentially, being fired for cause by Fox. That’s another part of these celebrity stories that baffles me. A big-ticket media talking head screws up, makes a big mistake — in this case, allegedly, several big mistakes — and he’s still able to walk away with a hefty severance package.

Whatever …

See ya in the funny papers, Bill.

As for the network, it lost its news boss — Roger Ailes — over similar accusations. Women have suggested there exists a “culture” of sexual harassment at Fox.

Perhaps we are witnessing a fundamental change in that culture and that female journalists and other “contributors” will feel more welcome and accepted for the talent they bring.

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