Joe Muto, the now-infamous Fox News mole, has a new book about spilling the beans on some of his experiences working at the network for many years. Salon.com has an excerpt that tells the story of the day the news broke about Bill O’Reilly wanting to rub falafel all over a producer’s body:
I had just finished the falafel section of the lawsuit, and my jaw must have been hanging open, because Barry sounded panicked when he quietly hissed at me: “Dude!”
I turned to him and saw that his monitor was no longer displaying The Smoking Gun. No one’s was. A hush had fallen over the newsroom, the chat groups had evaporated, and everyone was back at their own seat with their heads buried in their screens, suddenly very interested in whatever duty they had been shirking in favor of gossip. I looked around, puzzled. Barry caught my eye and gestured with his head toward the newsroom entrance.
It was O’Reilly.
He stood framed in the doorway, tall and stone-faced, surveying the room like some sort of cable news golem, seemingly daring anyone to make a peep.
No one did.
He pushed into the room, walking briskly down the main aisle toward the “Factor” pod, as producers unlucky enough to have a desk in his direct path ducked their heads even farther, trying to make themselves invisible.
He came within twenty feet of my desk. I risked a peek out of the corner of my eye as he blew past. I had misjudged his countenance from a distance. It wasn’t the impassive stone face that I had originally thought. It was a clenched jaw and a mask of pure, unadulterated fury.
Just fucking try me, his face said. Make my fucking day.
Which is precisely how I would expect him to have acted. At his core, O’Reilly is a thin-skinned, terribly insecure bully. But the best part is that the entire Fox News staff then had to take a terribly awkward training class on sexual harassment.
Without my ability to be a wiseass during the session, the three hours dragged on. To their credit, the man and woman leading it— lawyers who apparently specialized in schooling office drones on workplace conduct—were affable, and copped an apologetic, we’re on your side attitude about the whole thing: We know this is all nonsense, but please bear with us and we’ll all get out of here eventually…
We just want to see if anyone else has any situations, hypothetical or otherwise, that they need clarification on,” the female lawyer said.
To my left, the anchorwoman’s hand shot up. “Yeah, I’m wondering … uhhh, hypothetically … if your boss tells you that you have to wear short skirts instead of pants on the air because they want viewers to see your legs more, does that count as harassment?”
When the class’s round of nervous laughter died down, the anchor persisted: “No, seriously, though. I’m not saying anyone said that to me, but if they had … ?” She trailed off.
“As a matter of fact,” the male lawyer said, “they can ask you to wear whatever they want. The law says that since your on-air appearance is basically their ‘product,’ they can control how you dress.” He cleared his throat. “There’s a lot of legalese that I won’t get into, but long story short, they can pretty much ask you to wear anything.”
“So if they want me to do the news wearing a bikini … ?”
“Yup.” He nodded. “Theoretically, they could ask you to do it naked.”
The anchor sighed, then broke into a smile of resignation. “Couldn’t hurt the ratings, I guess.”
And then there’s this:
The radio “Factor” crew would sometimes order lunch from a great little Israeli place near the office. The owner was incredibly surly (and, according to some online reviews, mentally insane) and some days when he answered the phone, he’d just flat-out refuse to make a delivery for no apparent reason. But the matzoh ball soup was so good that we gladly took his abuse.
One time during a commercial break, we were calling out our meal choices to Eric, who was writing them down in preparation to phone in our order. (We figured that Eric, who was fluent in Hebrew, had the best chance of coaxing the reticent restaurateur into cooperating on days when he was being difficult.) I was studying the menu, not paying attention to the goings-on in the studio, when I found the dish I wanted.
“Eric, put me down for the combination plate with hummus, Israeli salad, and falaf—”
“MUTO!” Sam said, sharply cutting me off. “Let me see that menu real quick!”
I looked up to see panic written on Sam’s face. I followed his gaze and saw the door between the control room and the studio swinging shut. Bill, normally safe behind soundproof glass, had been hanging out in our half of the studio, chatting with Stan.
“What was that all about?” I asked.
Sam shook his head. “Dude, you don’t even know. You almost said the F-word in front of Bill.”
Okay, that’s just hilarious.
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