Thursday, October 14, 2004
Foreplay with a loofah? (updated)
Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, the nation's top-rated cable news host and an insistent advocate for personal responsibility and self-control, was accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed Wednesday by a producer on his show who says O'Reilly repeatedly pressured her to engage in phone sex and frightened her with lewd "monologues."
The suit, filed in New York by Andrea Mackris, a 33-year-old associate producer on "The O'Reilly Factor," quotes O'Reilly as speaking to her in highly explicit terms about vibrators, oral sex, masturbation and a fantasy involving a Caribbean hotel room shower.
The people at Fox just can't seem to leave children alone. I hate to mention the P-word, but I report, you decide—
Last month he published "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids," a bestseller in which "he lays bare the unvarnished truths about sex, money, smoking, drugs, alcohol and friends," according to the publisher. It was ranked No. 40 in Amazon.com sales Wednesday.
How does O'Reilly even know about such things? And just how old are those friends, Bill?
O'Reilly is claiming this is an act of extortion by—oh, no!—a Democrat—
O'Reilly and Fox News said Mackris' allegations "may … be motivated by Morelli's political connections to the Democratic Party." Morelli has given to the campaigns of Democratic candidates including Sen. John F. Kerry and Sen. John Edwards, the suit says. "The extortion scheme is timed to coincide with [the] upcoming presidential election, to cause maximum disruption and damage to plaintiffs, while at the same time benefiting Fox's major competitor CNN," the papers say.
What to say to the folks at home?—
On his show Wednesday, O'Reilly told his viewers that the suit was "the most evil thing I have ever experienced."
"We are living in treacherous times," he said. "Just about every famous person I know has been threatened and worked over by somebody…. But there comes a time when enough's enough …. Obviously, I can't get into specifics as the litigation is in motion … but I do respect my audience and feel you should know exactly what's going on."
I feel that way too, Bill. And I intend to find out.
I know that my gentle readers would never want me to go into the lascivious details. But for the benefit of legal scholars and sexologists, I will point out that TheSmokingGun.com has a copy of the lawsuit and that the juicy parts begin here. (Please be sure that the children have left the room.)
The countersuit asserts that Makris and her attorney asked for a cool $60 million not to file the suit, and that "the length of the quotes and the specific verbiage used made it appear that Makris was taping O'Reilly during the conversations."
It appeared that way to me too. Which makes it all the more wonderful.
The appearance of extortion would be somewhat compelling. But Makris' suit also alleges that "... Defendants BILL O'REILLY and WESTWOOD ONE ... maintained a virulently hostile work environment through explicit, rampant, pervasive and continued sex discrimination and sexual harassment against Plaintiff ... and other female employees [emphasis added]," which implies that there may be other women waiting in the wings—which may also be why Fox has decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns. Sixty million here, sixty million there could give Rupert Murdoch the pip.
In further support of that theory, the suit asserts,
During ... their dinner in early May 2002, Defendant BILL O'REILLY proceeded, without solicitation or invite, to inform Plaintiff ... that he had advised another woman to purchase a vibrator, and had taught that woman how to masturbate while telling her sexual stories over the telephone. O'REILLY told Plaintiff ... that she knew the woman from Fox.
Then there's the matter of Roger Ailes, President of Fox News, and his connections to Bush and Cheney. O'Reilly is quoted in the complaint as saying—
If you cross FOX NEWS CHANNEL, it's not just me, it's ... Roger Ailes who will go after you. I'm the street guy out front making loud noises about the issues, but Ailes operates behind the scenes, strategizes and makes things happen so that one day BAM! The person gets what's coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he's going to get a knock on his door and life as he's known it will change forever. That day will happen, trust me.... Defendant O'REILLY bizarrely rambled further about Al Franken: "Ailes knows very powerful people and this goes all the way to the top." Plaintiff queried: "To the top of what?" Defendant responded: "Top of the country. Just look at who's on the cover of the book [Bush and Cheney], they're watching him and will be for years.
On another occasion, Makris and O'Reilly watched a Bush press conference together. Afterward, "Plaintiff ridiculed President Bush." It's not germane to the lawsuit, but wouldn't you love to know what he said?
Makris is sitting on a gold mine.
One of the bloggers at Brutal Hugs says he has a friend who knows Makris, and the friend says that Makris does indeed have tape—videotape!
Fox network gets spanked over pixelated breasts (10/13/04)
Stress in the workplace: Is Bill O'Reilly going mad? (10/16/04)
Fox News buys the O'Reilly videotapes (10/29/04)