Bill O’Reilly accuser details alleged harassment, says she felt bullied into NDA
A woman who accuses former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly of workplace harassment when he was her boss in the early 2000s is opening up for the first time about her claims, saying she felt bullied into signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in 2004.
Andrea Mackris detailed the allegations in an interview with The Daily Beast published Tuesday.
Fox would cut ties with O’Reilly in April 2017 following the revelation that he paid $13 million to five women to settle allegations of sexual misconduct.
Mackris, who was a producer on “The O’Reilly Factor,” sued the host in 2004, alleging harassment and misconduct. She described being hit on at dinners, often including graphic sexual talk.
She told The Daily Beast that O’Reilly often wanted her to masturbate over the phone with him, and mocked her for not participating. She said during one September 2004 call, she reminded him that he was her boss in an effort to get him to realize how wrong his actions were.
“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,” Mackris said.
Mackris said that phone call was the reason she sought legal counsel.
“I stood up to Bill O’Reilly’s sexual abuse in the workplace alone. And for that I lost everything I ever was and ever hoped to be,” she said.
Mackris also detailed to The Daily Beast how her own attorneys pressured she felt from her own lawyers to take a $9 million settlement, which included an NDA that she says she doesn’t remember being shown until years later.
She says one of her attorneys, David Ratner, “was yelling because I was yelling back at him that Bill wasn’t a victim.”
“I was sobbing and screaming. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening—that Fox heard the tapes and was doing nothing. I was in full-blown PTSD. I wasn’t in my body. I was shaking from head to toe and crying uncontrollably,” she said.
The Daily Beast reported that Mackris’s brother and former therapist remember being told about her version of events, but Ratner strongly denied Mackris’s version an email.
“No one yelled. No one screamed, no one threatened,” Ratner reportedly said. “After several hours of negotiations [attorney Marc E.] Kasowitz said that $9 million was the final offer. Andrea read and signed the settlement agreement. She knew that the agreement contained an NDA because her portion of the settlement was paid in three annual installments to ensure that she did not violate the NDA… I am distressed that Andrea’s memory is so faulty.”
Fredric S. Newman, O’Reilly’s litigation counsel, told The Daily Beast, “Ms. Mackris issued a public statement in 2004 in which she stated that ‘there was no wrongdoing whatsoever by Mr. O’Reilly.”
In a statement to The Hill on Tuesday, a Fox News spokesperson said, “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,” the statement said.
“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,” it added.
O’Reilly is currently planning a December speaking tour with former President Trump.