It’s hard to imagine Bill O’Reilly prowling the corridors of FOX News, satyr-like and leering, searching out new prey for his lustful appetites. After all, O’Reilly built his career by savaging Bill Clinton for his over-reported indiscretions with the “less-than-lithesome” Ms. Lewinsky. Even back then, the randy right winger cast himself as a pillar of rectitude, entitled to condemn Clinton by heaping invective on the errant President on a daily basis.
Now the bilious O’Reilly has his own dilemma; a tawdry tale implicating him in a pattern of sexual harassment and abuse of power. The plaintiff, Andrea Mackris, just filed a lawsuit accusing O’Reilly of disgusting phone calls and threatening to ruin her career if she “complained.”
Die-hard O’Reilly loyalists, of course, won’t be deterred by the charges. Just like Limbaugh’s army of devotees, these are the true believers; impervious to any fact that doesn’t bear out the importance of their ideological messiah. For the rest of us though, Mackris’s story rings true.
O’Reilly is every inch the schoolyard bully; using his size and his mouth to browbeat opponents. He has only one arrow in his quiver: intimidation; and he has used it effectively to navigate his way to the top of the talk-radio dung heap.
Now, he has met his match with the recalcitrant Ms. Mackris. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; especially one with a high-powered attorney. Mackris has already conveyed all the lurid details of O’Reilly’s lecherous conduct in her lawsuit; a chronicle of lascivious behavior and abuse that would make Clinton wince. Those who are expecting O’Reilly to emerge looking like “missionary-position” Bill, had better prepare themselves for a shock. He comes out looking more like a weasely high-schooler getting his jollies from dirty phone calls to the prom queen. It’s not exactly the stuff that great careers are built on … even at FOX News.
Investigations of sexual misconduct are never particularly illuminating or evenhanded. They’re a scattershot approach to the truth that tend to wound the innocent as well as the guilty. Never the less, blabberlips O’Reilly has crowned himself the pontiff of personal responsibility, never failing to apply a rigorous standard of judgment to any miniscule failing in the conduct of others. It’s his feigned piety that makes the story interesting. Glass houses always make the best targets.
Let’s see how the obstreperous O’Reilly holds up under the avalanche of public criticism now that it’s his turn at the whipping post.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org