It’s been four years since Bill O’Reilly was forced to leave Fox News over sexual harassment allegations, though it’s not like he’s hurting. On top of the $25 million settlement he received, he’s got a weekly WABC radio show, makes frequent guest appearances elsewhere, and is a bestselling popular history writer. Later this year he’ll even go on tour with disgraced former president Donald J. Trump.
But the allegations that pushed him out of his old TV job were far from the first. In a new piece by The Daily Beast, a former colleague, Andrea Mackris, broke a 17-year-old NDA concerning sexual harassment accusations she made in 2004. It was a big deal at the time, though much of the press questioned the veracity of her claims. Now Mackris is opening up about O’Reilly’s purported actions, and the details are horrifying.
Mackris, who was a producer on The O’Reilly Factor off and on between 2000 and 2004, claims she was bullied by her lawyers into signing a $9 million NDA — $3 million of which went to her legal team. She says that O’Reilly frequently sexually harassed her, including over numerous dinners she felt obligated to attend. When she confronted him, asking him to stop, he wasn’t moved:
“Instead, he said, ‘I know, but I’m going to make you play.’ Here was my boss, a man who held my career and future in his hands, acknowledging that he knew I’d never consented but he didn’t care.”
Some of the alleged details have been made public before, including an infamous bit involving him saying he would soap her down in a shower with either a “loofah” or a “falafel thing.” But she revealed many more blood-curdling ones in the Daily Beast article, saying he would dictate his sexual fantasies to her, involving “vibrators and masturbating” and that he “needed a younger lover.” One time, she says, he suggested they have a threesome with one of her female friends.
Mackris had recordings of some of their conversations, but those were destroyed as part of the settlement. She claims that she signed it out of duress — that one of her lawyers told her, “No one believes you, and you’ll never be hired again, and if you walk out of this room like this, no other lawyers will work with you.” He added, she says, “You didn’t hire us to go to trial, you hired us to make him stop.”
Mackris says she’s been all but blacklisted in the industry. When she thought about writing a book about her experiences, a literary agent told her she was “DOA,” claiming she’s “not a sympathetic character because you took the money.” Nearly two decades later, the ordeal continues to consume her life, that she misses the profession she worked her whole life to master.
Meanwhile, O’Reilly’s latest tome, Killing the Mob, is currently #3 on The New York Times Book Review‘s Hardcover Nonfiction chart.
Fox News released the following statement in response to The Daily Beast’s article:
“The claims outlined in this report took place under the leadership of Roger Ailes, who along with Bill O’Reilly and the management referred to here, have been long gone from the network. Since the summer of 2016, FOX News has worked tirelessly to transform the company culture, including naming a new chief executive, tripling the size of our HR footprint, designating a new senior leadership team predominantly comprised of women and establishing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. We have also instituted mandatory in-person, live harassment prevention training, designated multiple avenues to report ‘concerning behavior’ including an anonymous alert line, enhanced company-wide communication with quarterly company meetings and mentoring events, as well as implemented a zero tolerance policy regarding workplace misconduct of any kind for which we engage outside independent firms to handle all investigations. No other media company has undergone such a comprehensive and continuous overhaul which resulted in our designation as a Great Place to Work last year.”
(Via The Daily Beast)