In our Personal Story Segment Tonight...
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2004, 4:23pm PT  

Following up my previous article on this as promised, I've now finished reading both O'Reilly's pre-emptive complaint against Andrea Mackris, and her sexual harassment complaint against him. (Be forewarned, that sexual harassment complaint is very explicit and detailed!)

Of course, everyone deserves their day in court, but as I pointed out in my previous item on this, that is not a courtesy that either Fox or O'Reilly have gone out of their way to give to other public figures, though they are clearly tougher on folks who are not "Fox Friendly" than they have been on, say, Rush Limbaugh's legal woes.

When I heard O'Reilly's statement this morning on his radio show (mirroring closely his website's "Talking Points" for tonight's show and Fox's Press Release on the matter) describing the matter as "extortion" which required him, therefore, to file a pre-emptive complaint, I figured there had to be a lot more to this particular story.

There is. And this is going to get ugly. You've been warned.

Now I'm not an attorney, but unfortunately, I've had first hand experience about what bad folks do when they've done wrong, realize their actions have put them in legal jeopardy, and they are either unwilling or unable to extricate themselves from the matter via good-faith settlement, negotiation or admitting of wrong doing. They try to make the first strike with a pre-emptive lawsuit and put their accuser on the defensive. From what I can tell from the two now-filed complaints in this matter, that seems to be what O'Reilly (with the powerful Fox legal juggernaut at his disposal and hoping to protect the prized jewel in their crown) is attempting to do.

Based on O'Reilly's own complaint, and the detailed quotations from Markis' complaint, there's good reason to believe that tape recordings exist in this matter! From O'Reilly's complaint...

The draft complaint contained several lengthy block quotes of statements that O'Reilly allegedly made to Mackris. The length of the quotes and the specific verbiage used made it appear that Mackris was taping O'Reilly during the conversations.

Of course, O'Reilly would have been able to denounce those quotes as false or made-up if he knew them to be inaccurate. He does not do so in his complaint. Instead, he relies on painting his accuser as an extortionist, claims that "there were no physical or sexual assaults or other unwanted touchings" and then spends the bulk of the complaint attempting to dismiss her claims since, he charges, she did not follow Fox's own Sexual Harassment Policies which require that a manager be notified of any such incidents.

The fact that tapes may exist here, could be fatal to what will likely turn into an attempt to crush the woman's character (see my previous post on this).

That is not a good thing for O'Reilly who, according to the accuser's complaint, is described in rather graphic details as having what amounts to a near-obsession with vibrators, masturbation and phone sex in a large number of conversations over several months and years. Verbatim "monologues", allegedly spoken by O'Reilly over the phone to Mackris are transcribed in the complaint, as well as continual suggestions that she purchase a vibrator and participate in phone-sex sessions with him.

Without audio tapes --- if, in fact they exist --- and what appears to be a few third-party witnesses to some of this, though they are friends of Mackris' and thus could be seen as less than impartial, this thing could well be another classic "He Said/She Said" thing. Were that the case, I'd think O'Reilly and Fox would not have opened themselves up so broadly by filing a pre-emptive complaint against the woman, relying instead on their own advantage of controlling both the airwaves and the media reaction to this story.

At least one other tidbit gives me reason to believe there's more to this than the "extortion" picture O'Reilly and Fox are hoping to paint. Mackris reportedly was working for O'Reilly, on both his Radio and TV shows, at a salary of $93,200 a year in a position that she was quoted as describing to be everything she had trained for during her years in college. By all accounts, she was thrilled to hold the job. So why would she risk all of that when, according to both complaints, she was neither fired or threatened with same by O'Reilly? It would be quite a gamble if she knew there was no truth to her allegations and she was simply seeking a large "extortion" payoff.

Lastly (for now), in addition to the specific quotes from my earlier piece, I'll leave you to ponder this rather detailed (non-sexual, sorry) account of O'Reilly's alleged claims about what would happen if any of this kind of behavior ever got out:

On or about April 13, 2004, during dinner at Milos, Plaintiff ANDREA MACKRIS again told Defendant BILL O'REILLY that she would return to work on "The O'Reilly Factor" only if he no longer engaged in inappropriate conduct. Defendant agreed: "Of course, because then you'd be working for me and I'd have power over you, so that couldn't happen, that wouldn't be fair." When Plaintiff reminded Defendant that he had done the same thing to other women who worked on "The O'Reilly Factor," and that he should be careful or they might tell someone, O'REILLY vehemently threatened with words to the effect:
If any woman ever breathed a word I'll make her pay so dearly that she'll wish she'd never been born. I'll rake her through the mud, bring up things in her life and make her so miserable that she'll be destroyed. And besides, she wouldn't be able to afford the lawyers I can or endure it financially as long as I can. And nobody would believe her, it'd be her word against mine and who are they going to believe? Me or some unstable woman making outrageous accusations. They'd see her as some psycho, someone unstable. Besides, I'd never make the mistake of picking unstable crazy girls like that.

See my previous piece for more on that conversation. And remember, O'Reilly's own complaint admits that the woman may have tape recordings, they don't seem to deny the allegations at all, but rather go out of their way to say that there was no "physical" harrassment, and that Mackris didn't follow Fox's in-house Harassment Policy. So, look out for what's likely to come out of this one.