Nowadays the news media operates more like a body of predators that expose the personal failings of high-profiled celebrities and politicians for financial gain. They would vehemently deny that characterization and would argue that they are doing the public a service to bring the indiscretions of public figures to the light of day. If the public figure is the President or a candidate for president, then yes the public has a right to know. If it is about the sexual improprieties of actor Charlie Sheen or a bombastic congressman from New York City, then no. However, the news media is not as gung-ho to investigate and report endlessly the sex scandal of someone in their own industry. Case in point, Andrea Mackris vs. Fox News broadcaster and media personality Bill O’Reilly.
O’Reilly, a blatant hypocrite, faced his own sex scandal in 2004 when allegations of quid pro quo sexual harassment and sexually hostile work environment ended up in a lawsuit filed by his former producer Andrea Mackris. O’Reilly first denied the allegations until Mackris revealed that she had an audio recording of his phone conversations. He eventually settled the suit with her for tens of millions of dollars, and his lawyers demanded the return of his sex tape.
The news media reported the story but did not spend near as much time on O’Reilly’s sex scandal as they did on the other poor suckers who cheated and lied then ended up in their crosshair. Bill O’Reilly broke the law and paid to cover it up, and the news media abandoned the story.
The salacious details in Mackris lawsuit were far more damaging and serious than Congressman Weiner sending suggestive pictures to women on Twitter. O’Reilly violated New York City law, which defines harassment as “verbal, physical or pictorial and can include sexual comments, jokes, innuendo, and pressure for dates, sexual touching, sexual gestures, and sexual graffiti.”
O’Reilly would argue that he broke no laws because he never admitted to any wrongdoing. I guess when you are rich, it is easy to give millions to anyone who makes a false accusation against you. Besides, O’Reilly sees himself as a media god, all-powerful, protected by his boss and vice president of Fox News, paranoid fruitcake Roger Ailes. The settlement came with the return of the sex tape, but not before it went viral on the Internet.
The harassment lasted over a period of years, and he became more aggressive and blunt after Mackris left a job at CNN and returned to Fox News to produce his show. During a dinner, as described on Page 6 of the 22-page lawsuit, O’Reilly said to Mackris “use your vibrator to blow off steam.” He continued, “What, you got a vibrator, don’t you? Every girl does.” He even divulged that his wife used a vibrator and she would be quite upset if she knew he had violated her privacy.
His accuser was not a Twitter follower as in the case of Congressman Weiner. This woman worked for Bill O’Reilly, the self-proclaimed most powerful broadcaster in cable news. He went as far as to tell her “that he had advised another woman to purchase a vibrator, and had taught that woman how to masturbate while telling her sexual stories over the telephone.”
According to Mackris lawsuit, O’Reilly told her that the woman was from Fox News and he boasted, “the woman had her first orgasm via masturbation as he spoke to her on the telephone.” He confessed that he received a massage in Bali, and the “Little short brown woman asked to see his penis and was amazed.” Mackris accused O’Reilly of soliciting her and a college girlfriend to “go to a hotel together for a time of [their] lives.”
Those salacious comments were much more damaging about the unlawful conduct of a powerful national media figure, who used his position to harass a female employee, than the Twitter pictures in the media’s possession of a congressman from New York City. Even if Weiner is found guilty of violating House Ethics rule, it is still not comparable to Bill O’Reilly’s relentless sexual harassment of a woman who worked for him.
In Mackris’ lawsuit, there were enough information for the news media to investigate to determine the identity of the other Fox News employee who O’Reilly, allegedly, harassed. They could also reasonably conclude that it was a pattern of behavior because he carried his sexual appetite ten thousand miles to Bali, Indonesia. Did the woman who he “taught” to masturbate also receive hush money to keep O’Reilly’s dirty little secret, a secret? We will never know the answer to those questions for none of the news media pursued the matter once Mackris received her hush money.
They coalescence around their own and wink, wink like they are covering the story, but not really. Besides when it comes to Fox News, except for certain ones on MSNBC, the major networks and CNN will not dare touch a story about that organization. Therefore, the media’s criticism and judgment of unprincipled politicians is just blatant hypocrisy.
ABC News smelled blood in the water and suspected there were more to Congressman Weiner’s impropriety and to relieve their suspicion, they conspired with Andrew Breitbart, a vile, unscrupulous conservative blogger, to expose the Congressman. You might remember Breitbart as the liar who took Shirley Sherrod’s comments out of context and slandered her as a racist, which led to her firing from the Department of Agriculture. There were just as much evidence or more that O’Reilly harassment went beyond Mackris, but ABC News did not pursue the matter further as they did with Congressman Weiner.
It is undeniable that Anthony Weiner disrespected his wife, disappointed his constituents, and behaved like the narcissist he is, and there is no justification for him lying to the media to hide his transgression. Maybe he should have sought advice from Bill O’Reilly on how to cover-up a sex scandal and avoid media scrutiny.
If the news media is going to compete with the National Enquirer, they cannot discriminate because everyone is fair game with that bunch. They will have to exercise their First Amendment right and personally destroy EVERYONE in the public who commits an indecent act, and that includes broadcasters, journalists, pundits, and reporters.
If a scandal arises about someone in the news media, say Diane Sawyer, the public will expect the same sensational coverage that Congressman Weiner received. Diane Sawyer would probably agree because she went on Bill O’Reilly’s show last week to defend ABC News’ position that they are not bias. Well, I think that is just perfect. We can at least expect ABC News to destroy one of their own if they are caught up in a scandal, and we would expect them to be vicious and unrelenting.