Bill O'Reilly is accusing Factor producer Andrea Mackris and Manhattan lawyer Benedict P. Morelli of demanding $60M in extortion money. According to O'Reilly, Mackris claimed he "engaged in offensive conversations" with her, then demanded $60M to quash a highly publicized lawsuit. Curiously, O'Reilly calls it all a conspiracy to help CNN and the Democratic Party.
It is apparent that Defendants' outrageous monetary demand is motivated by their greed and also by Morelli’s political connections. Morelli, his firm, and his wife, Arlene, are known supporters of and contributors to the Democratic Party, contributing to the campaigns of U.S. Senators John Kerry, John Edwards, Tom Daschle, and Charles Schumer, among others. He perceives Fox and O’Reilly as politically conservative and supporters of the Republican Party. If he does not receive his share of $60 million, he would like nothing more than to embarrass and tarnish the reputations of Fox and O’Reilly.
So what they're saying is, he's a Manhattan attorney.
The extortion attempt is timed to cause the maximum disruption and damage to Fox and O’Reilly. Fox News coverage and O’Reilly’s program in particular have consistently drawn higher ratings during election periods, and the upcoming, tightly-contested Presidential election between Senator John Kerry and President George W. Bush has been drawing record-setting ratings for The O’Reilly Factor and Fox News Channel programming. In fact, Fox News Channel is the most highly rated cable news network in the United States and has continued to increase its lead over CNN in recent years. Its expectation has been that viewership, and thus revenues, will continue to increase, particularly as the electorate becomes even more involved with the presidential race.
Well, it's a good thing they didn't put themselves in the center of a controversial lawsuit, then highly publicize it, since such a move would undoubtedly hurt their ratings.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004