Popular right-wing talk show host Bill O'Reilly, star of "The O'Reilly Factor," and the company he works for, Fox News, were slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit today by Andrea Mackris, an associate producer on his show. (The lawsuit is posted in its entirety on The Smoking Gun website.) Mackris, who worked for Fox News for more than four years, alleged that O'Reilly repeatedly harassed her verbally, repeatedly making lewd suggestions to her in person and over the telephone while masturbating with a vibrator.
Just before Mackris filed her civil complaint, O'Reilly and Fox's lawyers filed a counter lawsuit (also posted on The Smoking Gun Web site) charging that Mackris and her lawyers were attempting to extort $60 million in "hush money." Although the complaint did not directly deny that O'Reilly had engaged in the conduct Mackris alleged, it called the allegations "baseless, scandalous and scurrilous." O'Reilly's attorneys alleged that the lawsuit was motivated not only by greed but politics, alleging that Mackris' lawyer, Benedict Morelli, his firm and his wife are "known supporters of and contributors to the Democratic Party" who wanted to "embarrass and tarnish the reputations of Fox and O'Reilly" during the election season.
O'Reilly and Fox's complaint states that Mackris never complained to anyone about O'Reilly's alleged harassment, that she left Fox for CNN not because of the harassment but for a higher salary and that she in fact returned to work for O'Reilly, and had dinner and cocktails with him, after some of the alleged harassment had occurred. It also claims that Mackris and her lawyers, after claiming that their damages amounted to $600 million, demanded $60 million in "blood money" and "never once lowered this outrageous, extortionate demand." The complaint asks for unspecified damages.
Newsday quoted Morelli as saying Fox's retaliatory lawsuit was without merit. "The type of negotiations that occurred between us and the attorneys for Fox and Bill O'Reilly happen every day in civil lawsuits," the paper quoted Morelli.
Mackris' lawsuit gives a lurid account of O'Reilly's alleged verbal harassment. The statements she claims he made are quoted at great length and apparently verbatim, making it appear that she repeatedly taped O'Reilly, although at least one apparent O'Reilly quote is prefaced with the characterization "words to the effect."
In the lawsuit, Mackris claims that throughout her employment at Fox News, she was "subjected to the mercurial and unpredictable mood swings of her boss...a personality who can be paternal and engaging at one moment, tyrannical and menacing the next." Her account begins with a dinner to which O'Reilly asked her out, "purportedly to discuss her future at Fox." After some innocuous conversation, according to the complaint, O'Reilly's "demeanor abruptly changed. O'Reilly's eyes became glazed and bizarrely strayed in opposite directions. Suddenly, without provocation or warning, Defendant Bill O'Reilly said to Plaintiff Andrew Mackris, 'And just use your vibrator to blow off steam.'"
The complaint then alleges that O'Reilly told Mackris that he had advised another woman to buy a vibrator and had taught that woman how to masturbate while telling her sexual stories over the phone. O'Reilly boasted that the woman had had her first orgasm in this fashion. He said all of his sexual stories were based on his own experiences, "such as when he received a massage in a cabana in Bali and the 'little short brown woman' asked to see his penis and was 'amazed.'" O'Reilly then allegedly offered to tell Mackris the same stories, which he knew she would "just love."
The complaint then alleges that a year later, in May 2003, O'Reilly took Mackris and a friend to dinner, where he repeatedly propositioned them both, again "singing the praises of telephone sex." He told them that he "was going to Italy to meet the Pope, that his pregnant wife was staying home with his daughter, and implied he was looking forward to some extra-marital dalliances with the 'hot' Italian women."
Mackris left Fox for CNN, but in April 2004 her boss was fired for sexual harassment -- whereupon, according to the complaint, she received a phone call from O'Reilly, who suggested they have dinner to discuss her professional future. Mackris agreed, but on condition that the talk be strictly professional. When Mackris, over dinner, reminded O'Reilly that he had engaged in inappropriate conduct with other women who worked on his show and said 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'd make her pay so dearly she'd wish she's 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."
O'Reilly allegedly went on to say that anyone who crossed Fox News would have other enemies, and made ominous predictions about a dire fate awaiting political satirist Al Franken, who had tangled with O'Reilly and Fox. "If you cross Fox News Channel, it's not just me, it's Roger Ailes who will go after you...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."
The complaint then alleges that on August 2, 2004, "after interviewing two porn stars on 'The O'Reilly Factor,'" O'Reilly telephoned Mackris at her home. Apparently "excited," O'Reilly allegedly "launched into a vile and degrading monologue about sex." He told Mackris to buy a vibrator and name it, saying he "'had one shaped like a little cock with a battery in it' that a woman had given him. It became apparent that Defendant was masturbating as he spoke. After he climaxed, Defendant O'Reilly said to Plaintiff, 'I appreciate the fun phone call.'"
A month later, O'Reilly allegedly called again. "Defendant O'Reilly [said] he was watching a porn movie and babbled perversely regarding his fantasies regarding Caribbean vacations because, purportedly, 'Once people get into that hot water they shed their inhibitions, you know they drink during the day, they lay there and lazy, they have dinner and then they come back and fool around...that's basically the modus operandi."
O'Reilly then allegedly launched into a lengthy fantasy featuring a loofah mitt.
"...you'd definitely get two wines in you, as quickly as I could get into you I would get 'em into you, maybe intravenously, get those glasses of wine into you," the complaint quotes O'Reilly as saying to Mackris. "You would basically be in the shower and then I would come in and you would have your back to me and I would take that loofah thing and kinda' soap up your back...rub it all over you, get you to relax, hot water...and um, you know, you'd feel the tension drain out of you and uh you would still be with your back to me then I would kinda' put my arm -- it's one of those mitts, those loofah mitts you know, so I got my hands in it...and I would put it around front, kinda' rub your tummy a little bit with it, and then with my other hand I would start to massage your boobs, get your nipples really hard...'cuz I like that and you have really spectacular boobs...
"So anyway I'd be rubbing your big boobs and getting your nipples really hard, kinda' kissing your neck from behind...and then I would take the other hand with the falafel (sic) thing and I'd just put it on your pussy but you'd have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business..."
"During the course of Defendant Bill O'Reilly's sexual rant, it became clear that he was using a vibrator upon himself, and that he ejaculated. Plaintiff was repulsed."
The complaint then asserts that "immediately after climaxing," O'Reilly began boasting about how good he was during a recent appearance on "The Tonight Show." He allegedly concluded the phone call by saying, "You know Mackris, in these days of your celibacy and your hibernation this is good for you to have a little fantasy outlet...I'm trying to tell you, this is good for your mental health."