This week, sexual harassment allegations have besmirched Fox News pillar Bill O'Reilly after the New York Times reported that five accusers had received roughly $13 million over 14 years. O'Reilly has denied all accusations. His representative, crisis fixer and former Clinton White House lawyer Mark Fabiani, emailed Broadly O'Reilly's previously released statement: "Most importantly, I'm a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way," it read. "The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me." The allegations come 12 years after an explosive 2004 lawsuit that alleged O'Reilly sexually harassed producer Andrea Mackris and called her while using a vibrator on himself. The Smoking Gun published the suit, which has remained a popular story online because O'Reilly allegedly urged her to rub a "falafel thing" on her "pussy."
In 2004, he settled with Mackris for an undisclosed amount, which the Times reported was for $9 million. O'Reilly has denied all accusations, but the new allegations have returned Mackris's accusations to the spotlight.
Mackris's legal battle became a news story when Fox News filed a lawsuit against her on October 14 2004. They sued the then 33-year-old producer for $60 million for what the network's lawsuit called an "extortion scheme." According to the complaint, Mackris worked at Fox from April 2000 to January 2004. She stayed on as an associate producer even when other companies offered her higher paying jobs, but eventually left for a CNN position in January 2004. The suit claims she complained to O'Reilly that CNN had fired her boss over sexual harassment claims, and she returned to Fox as an associate producer in July 2004. On September 4, 2004 Mackris emailed a CNN employee: "I'm home, and I'll never leave again." On September 29, 2004, Fox claims they received a letter from Mackris. They claimed she outlined sexual harassment and later demanded $60 million in "hush money." Fox News accused Mackris of helping her liberal attorney, Benedict P. Morelli, attack Fox News.
Mackris shot back with her own lawsuit, alleging that O'Reilly called her while watching porn and ranting about his Caribbean beach fantasies. "Once people get into that hot weather they shed their inhibitions, you know they drink during the day, they lay there and lazy, they have dinner and then the come back and fool around," he said, according to the suit. "That's basically the modus operandi." He allegedly went on to describe how he would have sex with Mackris in the shower: "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 thing [sic] and I'd put it on your pussy but you'd have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business."
The suit also claims that during another call, O'Reilly outlined a fantasy where "you'd tease me." Mackris recalls O'Reilly using a vibrator on himself during the call. After he orgasmed, the suit claims he started bragging about his appearing on The Tonight Show.
Just use your vibrator to blow off steam.
In early March 2002, the suit claims O'Reilly encouraged Mackris to "Just use your vibrator to blow off steam." A year later at a May 2003 dinner, he allegedly propositioned Mackris and her friend for a threesome. "Bill, you're my boss!" the suit claims Mackris told him. At the same dinner, he described losing his virginity in a car parked at JFK with a stewardess and a rendezvous with a "girl" at a "Thai sex show."
After two weeks of media reports, O'Reilly settled with Mackris. They released a joint statement: "The parties regret that this matter has caused tremendous pain, and they have agreed to settle," it read. "All cases and claims have been withdrawn, and all parties have agreed there was no wrongdoing whatsoever by Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Mackris or Ms. Mackris' counsel, Benedict P. Morelli and associates. We now withdraw any assertion that any extortion by Ms. Mackris, Mr. Morelli, or Morelli and associates occurred. Out of respect for their families and privacy, all parties and their representatives have agreed that all information relating to the cases shall remain confidential."
Mackris's name, though, has remained attached to O'Reilly, and it's no longer 2004. Since the new allegations emerged, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, and BMW of North America have all pulled advertisements from Fox News—but O'Reilly maintains his innocence. "Just like other prominent and controversial people, I'm vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity," O'Reilly said in his statement. "In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline."
Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images.