Bill O’Reilly Settles Lawsuit for Millions

What a big Bill! Paying millions in sex-harassment case (New York Daily News)

Bill O’Reilly and the decades-younger producer who claimed he tormented her with unwanted phone sex reached an out-of-court settlement last night – putting a seeming end to an embarrassing sex scandal for the Fox News superstar. Sources told the Daily News that O’Reilly will have to pay Andrea Mackris at least $2 million – and possibly as much as $10 million. Under the deal, Mackris will drop the sexual harassment suit she filed against the talk-show host and Fox. O’Reilly and his Fox bosses, in turn, will forget about the extortion suit they filed against Mackris and her lawyer.

“On a personal note, this matter has caused enormous pain, but I had to protect my family and I did,” O’Reilly said on last night’s edition of “The O’Reilly Factor.” “This brutal ordeal is now officially over and I will never speak of it again,” he added. The terms of the agreement – which came two weeks after the scandal exploded – were confidential. But Mackris’ court filing – accusing her famous boss of pelting her with sleazy phone calls, pestering her for kinky sex and boasting of his sexual prowess – already has been laid out in explicit detail.

I’m no fan of O’Reilly regardless of the merits of these claims. The ability of accusers to extort huge sums from public figures through the courts, creating a situation where it’s cheaper to settle than have one’s reputation smeared for months on end, is a growing danger, however. Even if all Mackris alleged were true, that the damages could amount to more than a few thousand dollars is simply baffling. We’ve got to end this idiotic lottery-by-lawsuit system.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Media, Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. ken says:

    James, I don’t know how much O’Liely is actually worth but a fine of only ‘few thousand dollars’ as you suggest would unlikely be enough deterance to keep him just from moving on to his next victem.

    A rich man in a powerful position who abuses the women he works with for sexual gratification needs to pay a penalty large enough to convince him to change his ways.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Ken, We’re not talking about a fine but rather civil damages. An employee is no more damaged by harrasment from a filthy rich employer than a middle class one. The point of tort law is to make people whole for damages suffered, not to make them rich–let alone convince people to change their ways.

  3. ken says:

    James, point taken.

    You may however be undervaluing Mackris damages.. She was a highly paid producer with over a six figure income. If she successfully argues that these events effectively ended her career then her damages are indeed in the millions. Right?

  4. James Joyner says:

    Ken: I’m not sure what TV producers make. I was under the impression that it’s not all that much. But I didn’t understand this to have been a wrongful termination suit, anyway, although I’ve paid relatively little attention to it.

  5. Bill says:

    I’m always amused when “holier than thou” commentators such as O’Reily or Rush turn out to be schmucks. They earn millions presenting a false picture of themselves. They deserve what they have earned.

  6. brent says:

    He didn’t have to counter-sue and then pay her millions to drop her (and his own) suit. He could have had a trial where phone records showed conclusively that her story was bogus. Unless, of course, it wasn’t.

    Once again, Bill bullies his detractors and comes out as the bad guy. He didn’t have to play it that way. Unless, of course, he did.

  7. Bill_2 says:

    Not an O’Reilly fan either but this settlement is way out of whack. She did not make 6 figures, I am pretty sure of that. Curious that she would go back to a job at Fox after having been harassed there. That makes sense to anyone who attained a position at another netwoek to get away from the harassment. Looks like she found the new lottery.

  8. BoDiddly says:

    A couple of thoughts:

    First, what could O’Reilly have done to prove his innocence? To put it differently, what “evidence” exists that words were never said over the phone? I presume that if he were guilty, and recorded conversations existed, the settlement wouldn’t have been nearly as much as the proceeds from the suit. And you’d have to be living under a boulder for the last decade to not know that in a harassment case, the male is guilty until proven innocent.

    Also, does anyone really think that the left-wingers in print, radio, or television are under the type of scrutiny as are their conservative counterparts?

    And as one last point, Ken, you said, “A rich man in a powerful position who abuses the women he works with for sexual gratification needs to pay a penalty large enough to convince him to change his ways.” I take that to mean that you didn’t buy the “private life” argument that was used to demonize those who opposed Clinton, and that you were in favor of disgracefully ejecting him from the highest office in the land.

  9. ken says:

    bo

    There is a big difference between a consensual sexual relationship between adults and what O’Reilly did.

    Your repuglican attacks on Clinton backfired. America supported our president over his partison enemies. It’s time you get over it.

  10. McGehee says:

    There is a big difference between a consensual sexual relationship between adults and what O’Reilly did.

    You know for a fact what O’Reilly did? Details, Ken. Tell us everything!

  11. Attila Girl says:

    There is a point wherein the power differential between two people is so great that consent isn’t meaningful. I’m not sure exactly where that line is, but I assure you that an affair/flirtation between the President of the United States and a White House intern is over that line–even if she did make the first moves.

    Had it been Reagan, and had the woman walked in naked, he would have put his coat over her, led her gently out of the room, and arranged for some nice older female staffer to mentor her till she got over whatever emotional problems were driving her to do such a thing in the first place.

  12. BoDiddly says:

    Ken . . .

    Well, Ken, I obviously touched a nerve. Clinton’s entire defense boiled down to the “personal matter” argument when it became undeniably obvious that he lied when he denied the affair.

    Now, between the “repuglican” remark and the “get over it” line, you leave me with the impression that you are incapable of logical, thoughtful, and gentlemanly debate. I humbly apologize for mistaking you for an intellectual, and you may resume the blissful contemplation of your navel. I won’t bother you again.