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Friday, October 15, 2004

The Sleaze Factor

Delight in the misfortune of others is a vice I normally prefer not to indulge, particularly if the misfortune involves the basest of emotional anguish.

But when it's something caused by their own behavior, and it's someone as obnoxious as Bill O'Reilly...it's hard to resist. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

If you've been living under a rock, Bill O'Reilly has been sued for sexual harassment. Never one to lay low, he's fighting back in the public arena, even going so far as to file a lawsuit of his own.

As for the complaint...read it for yourself.

The nice people at The Smoking Gun were good enough to highlight what they thought were the juiciest parts of it, but really, the whole thing from Pages 6-18 is worth reading.

The four things I took away from reading this lurid complaint:
1. For an allegedly heterosexual male, he's got what seems like an unhealthy interest in vibrators.
2. He confused a "loofah" with "falafel." Unless, of course, he really wanted to rub someone's unmentionables with a fried patty of crushed garbanzo beans.
3. He claims he's well-endowed. Of course, so do all guys.
4. I can only dream of how utterly repulsive phone sex with Bill O'Reilly must be.

How much of this is true? Neither O'Reilly nor his attorney have denied that conversations of a sexual nature had taken place. His attorney said that some of O'Reilly's statements could have been "taken out of context" or "spun for exaggeration." (I'd love to know the proper context for encouraging your employee to purchase a vibrator.) The level of detail - excruciatingly lurid detail - in the complaint implies that the conversations were tape record, which is a no-no without the other party's consent under New York law.

O'Reilly, for his part, alleges that there was a shakedown. I do wonder why Andrea Mackris came back to work for O'Reilly and Fox News if she was so creeped out. We don't know what Mackris and her attorney asked for prior to the commencement of this round of litigation. The legal experts quoted here in this article seem to think O'Reilly would have a very hard time proving exortion.

The vague threats against Al Franken and against some other, unspecified persons is an interesting additional angle. Those certainly sound like they could have come from O'Reilly's big mouth. The overall tone of the alleged statements seems in character with the bullying exuded by O'Reilly on a regular basis on his television and radio appearances.

It doesn't look likely that large sums of money will change hands, in either direction, but it does appear that O'Reilly's image as a "family values" man will take a large hit.


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