As Bill O’Reilly continues to lose advertisers over reports of multiple sexual harassment accusations, Pepsi is also making headlines after releasing — and then pulling — an insensitive ad. Because the internet never forgets, social media is now turning its eye on a 15-year-old controversy in which the Fox News host waged a successful campaign to get Pepsi to drop rapper Ludacris, who O’Reilly said was “a man who degrades women.”
In 2002, as Ludacris was becoming one of the most popular rappers in music, the future 2 Fast 2 Furious actor appeared in Pepsi promotions. O’Reilly was outraged by the decision, urging his viewers to boycott the soda company if they didn’t pull the ads.
“I’m calling for all responsible Americans to fight back and punish Pepsi for using a man who degrades women, who encourages substance abuse, and does all the things that hurt particularly the poor in our society,” he said on The O’Reilly Factor, according to Media Matters.
The pundit’s comments worked. The beverage company stopped the ads and dropped Ludacris, citing consumer complaints about his profane and violent lyrics. O’Reilly took credit for the move, as seen in the video below, saying Ludacris is “subverting the values of the United States.”
The beef between O’Reilly and Ludacris continued in 2004 when, in his hit song “Number One Spot,” the performer referenced a sexual harassment lawsuit against the host, rapping, “Respected highly, ‘Hi, Mr. O’Reilly!’ Hope all is well, kiss the plaintiff and the wifey.”
O’Reilly has faced public criticism and the loss of multiple sponsors on his longtime daily program for a recent New York Times article claiming he and Fox News have paid $13 million to five different women in order to stop them from publicizing sexual harassment allegations against the veteran political commentator.