Bill O'Reilly, whose show on Fox News Channel has been shedding advertisers relentlessly following a New York Times feature showing he and the network have paid out roughly $13 million to five women in sexual harassment suits, once postured himself as outraged on behalf of women disrespected by rapper Ludacris.
In 2002, O'Reilly devoted a segment of his show to demand Pepsi — which is facing its own issues over a protest-themed ad — drop ads from the MTV Awards featuring Ludacris. He later bragged about successfully pressuring Pepsi to stop featuring the rapper in its ads.
"On the MTV Award program, Pepsi-Cola will run commercials featuring the rapper Ludacris, who some consider more vile than Eminem, if that's possible," O'Reilly said, according to progressive group Media Matters. "Apparently all that is fine with Pepsi."
"What I'm arguing is that you're legitimizing a man who is demeaning just about everybody, and is peddling antisocial behavior," O'Reilly told Pepsi spokesman Bart Casabona. "You have no conscious qualms about that?"
According to MTV, O'Reilly essentially destroyed one of Ludacris' most lucrative deals: Internal Pepsi research had concluded "teens ranked the soda's hip-hop spokesperson as popular as any celebrity associated with the brand in the past."
In a followup segment, O'Reilly said "Last night Talking Points hammered Pepsi for hiring thug rapper Ludacris to do a commercial on the MTV award program. Ludacris espouses violence, intoxication and degrading conduct toward women. Apparently thousands of you let Pepsi know Ludacris was unacceptable, and today they canceled him."
O'Reilly continued, "In a statement issued a short time ago, Pepsi says, quote, 'We've heard from a number of people that were uncomfortable with our association with this artist. We've decided to discontinue our ad campaign and we're sorry that we've offended anyone.'"
"Well, we applaud Pepsi's decision," O'Reilly concluded.
Of course, as the Times profile noted, O'Reilly was being stunning hypocritical about sexism. Complaints against his conduct at the network included claims he screamed at a female producer, bought 33-year-old producer Andrea Mackris a vibrator and then called her to describe sexual fantasies, pursued a sexual relationship with anchor Laurie Dhue and invited personality Andrea Tantaros to "come stay with him on Long Island where it would be 'very private.'" One Fox News guest, Wendy Walsh, said O'Reilly offered her a job at the network in exchange for sexual favors.
Now that O'Reilly is the one losing sponsors over claims of sexual harassment, it would seem Ludacris is having the last laugh. An associate of the rapper told gossip site Hollywood Life "Bill's so two-faced and Ludacris is glad that everyone finally sees it. He sits at his desk trashing Luda, Snoop Dogg and basically every rapper in the game, saying their lyrics are disrespectful to women when he's allegedly sexually harassing them."