Saturday, October 30, 2004

O'Reilly Post-Mortem

In comments, Cybelle asks:

Bill and his lawyers are claiming that there was no "wrong doing". wtf? Sexually harassing an employee and threatening her _is_ "wrong doing". What world do these people live in? Or is that some kind of lawyer speak for "this is over"?

It's lawyer speak for you can buy anything for enough money.

Many settlement agreements in civil suits contain a boilerplate recital that the defendant does not admit liability, that the settlement is only the compromise of a disputed claim, that the defendant is merely "buying his/her/its peace." The defendant denies fault, but the plaintiff does not agree.

The O'Reilly settlement contains a statement that the parties assert there was "no wrongdoing whatsoever" by any of the parties, which also means that O'Reilly is admitting Mackris and her lawyer were not trying to extort money from him. Which, implicitly, at least, negates the assertion that O'Reilly didn't do anything wrong -- O'Reilly is admitting that Mackris had good reason to demand 60 million (or whatever amount) from him based on his conduct. Or, to put it another way, that every accusation in his complaint was false.

In reality, the "no wrongdoing" recital is meaningless language that O'Reilly purchased from Mackris, presumably at a (steep) additional cost. It allows him to go on his program and indirectly proclaim innocence, while claiming he can't say anything more because of a confidentiality provision in the settlement agreement (which he presumably also demanded). Mackris, feeling fully compensated -- and also knowing that O'Reilly can't smear her -- could not care less. Her attorneys don't mind: they get a nice cut of the settlement as well as O'Reilly's written acknowledgement that his claims against them were baseless.

The irony of this story is that we've finally found one of those frivolous lawsuits the right keeps bitching about. O'Reilly admits that his lawsuit against Mackris and his attorney has no merit -- they did nothing wrong. Perhaps the New York State Bar should look into whether Mr. O'Reilly's (and FOX's) attorneys knowingly filed meritless litigation, particularly since O'Reilly wasted judicial resources -- his motion hearings -- suing people who were guilty of "no wrongdoing." (Of course, that won't happen, because the courts love it when litigants settle voluntarily, and it's hard to imagine any third party who'd have a basis to bring a claim based on a meaningless recital in a private contract.)

O'Reilly claims he did what he did to "protect his family." It's heartwarming to see a man pay millions to deep-six tapes in which he is heard abusing an underling and/or himself -- for the sake of his children. Welcome to the All-Vibrate Zone.

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