As you must know by now, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has been sued for sexual harassment by former producer Andrea Mackris. And while many were shocked by the accusations of unwanted phone sex and other lewd behavior, I wasn,t so surprised. For years, O’Reilly has exhibited the telltale sign of sexual deviance; he’s a man.
The simple truth of the matter is that all men are capable of this type of behavior. Of course, most of us have the decency to pay $3.95 per minute for the service and not try to get it free from our female subordinates at work. Yet, as a great man once said, “Let he who is not fantasizing about the hot chick in the marketing department cast the first stone.”
Therefore, I’m not going to rake O’Reilly over the coals for his “alleged” indiscretions. I’m sure his soon-to-be ex-wife can take care of that chore all by herself. Besides, the biggest villain in this tale is not O’Reilly but the Fox legal staff, which is trying to do to the legal system what O’Reilly so badly wanted to do to his former producer.
Surely, these “legal beagles” were the ones who decided to take the offensive by filing a lawsuit against Mackris and her attorney. In their complaint, Fox and O’Reilly claim that they were the victims of attempted extortion because get this Mackris, attorney tried to resolve the dispute before it ever went to trial. That fiend! What’s next? Is he going to try to settle cases out of court as well? He must be stopped!
Seriously, perhaps Fox would have a point if it claimed that Mackris had fabricated these allegations. Yet, incredibly, in its 19-page complaint, Fox never once claims that this is the case. Instead, it claims that Mackris was unreasonable in her request for $60 million.
Certainly, $60 million seems slightly excessive for a sexual harassment claim that doesn’t involve a heinous allegation like rape, sexual assault or making her actually watch The O’Reilly Factor. However, the fact that Mackris, request was unreasonable doesn’t make extortion. In fact, if asking for more money than you deserve was a crime, I’d face criminal charges every time someone inquired as to my speaking fees.
Besides, in the business world, we have a special name for this type of activity; it’s called “negotiating.” To the “geniuses” in the Fox legal department, here is how it works: One party asks for more money than it needs. The other party counters with an offer for less money that it is willing to pay. After weeks of the lawyers running up huge legal fees, the two parties settle somewhere in the middle. It’s really quite simple.
However, if Fox has its way, pre-trial negotiations will be a thing of the past. And in a country where more than 100 million lawsuits are filed every year, this could be as disastrous as O’Reilly’s decision to conduct a solo phone sex session on Mackris’ answering machine. Let’s face it; we need more lawsuits clogging up our courts like we need second seasons of Fox shows like Paradise Hotel, The Swan and dwarf version of The Bachelor.
SEAN CARTER is a lawyer, public speaker, and the author of “If It Does Not Fit, Must You Acquit?–Your Humorous Guide to the Law“. He can be reached at www.lawpsided.com.