The Freaky Factor’s final word

A trial lawyer with experience in settling sexual harassment cases draws his conclusions from the O’Reilly settlement:

We [that is, counsel for Mr. O’Reilly and Fox et al.] now withdraw any assertion that any extortion by Ms. Mackris, Mr. Morelli, or Morelli & Associates occurred.

That, my friends, is eating crow bigtime. That, my friends, is a settlement-mandated mitigation of damages that otherwise might continue to accrue for a defamation claim on Ms. Mackris’ behalf. Accusing someone of commiting a crime like extortion, if untrue, may be defamatory “per se” — meaning that an accusation that someone’s a criminal is conclusively presumed to be injurious to his or her reputation; it may not necessarily be defamatory if, for example, it’s true, but there’s no dispute that it would cause members of the public to think less of the accusee. While there’s a privilege for making such accusations in court filings, that privilege may not extend to accusations that are republished by the accusers outside the courtroom. There’s no way that O’Reilly’s and Fox et al.’s lawyers would have made the admission that the extortion claim was unfounded unless they were simultaneously receiving a release from Ms. Mackris that would cover her potential defamation claims as part of the overall package; and it’s something they’d only give up grudgingly. My hunch is that Ms. Mackris’ counsel painted his demand for such an admission as a “deal-killer point” in the negotiations; their side might have gotten more money if they’d dropped that demand, but they were unwilling to do so.

What’s also missing from the press release that one would normally expect to see is a statement to the effect that by agreeing to settle all claims of all parties, no party was admitting any liability and no party was admitting that any other party’s factual allegations or claims had any validity. That’s probably exactly what the settlement documents themselves say, and it’s usually something that a defendant insists on being able to say publicly. But in the press release, there’s only a weaker statement that “there was no wrongdoing whatsoever by Mr. O’Reilly, Ms. Mackris, or Ms. Mackris’ counsel.” Again, my strong hunch is that Ms. Mackris and her counsel objected to any broader statement than this one, knowing that it would have been spun by Mr. O’Reilly’s and Fox et al.’s lawyers as part of a “these claims were bogus but would’ve been expensive to litigate, blah blah” meme.

Is Kurtz’ source right in speculating that Mr. O’Reilly will write the entire check, however much it is for? I suspect he is.

Speaking as someone who has received a reasonably large settlement from a large corporation as a result of blatant and provable contractual wrongdoings on their part that would have gotten them killed in court, what this means is that O’Reilly did it and Miss Mackris had the proof.

Sexual harassment is a bogus “crime”. It’s totally SUBJECTIVE and completely dependent on feelings. But that’s not what this case was about, as one commenter on Beldar’s site wrote, it was a simple transaction for the tapes in order to protect O’Reilly’s continuing media viability. We can only assume that he’s a freaky phone perv now based on the logic of his actions; we do not have the absolute and undeniable proof.

As I’ve said before, Brave Sir William is both a coward and a fraud. If he truly didn’t do precisely that of which he was accused, he would have fought this to the bitter end as a matter of honor and reputation. Instead, he acted swiftly to sweep the matter under the carpet, buy his accuser’s silence and bury the evidence. No one ever said he was stupid.