Moral Mendacity

Ross Gordon/Louisville Eccentric Observer

Sanctity of Marriage author Bryan Harris

LEO Weekly | September 22, 2005
Bryan Harris answers the question above thusly: “I am the illegitimate son of a teenager and a western author. I was raised by crackpots in the middle of nowhere, until I started traveling and, eventually, wound up in college at Indiana University. I double majored in journalism and history until the government kicked me off the tuition tit. In 2001, I became a reporter in Peru, Ind., where I racked up a couple of awards for exposing the political misdeeds of some local (you guessed it) Republicans. I then became a reporter in Logansport, Ind., where I met great disfavor for writing about a gay high school student’s struggle with his identity. Next, I opened a bilingual monthly newspaper with my then girlfriend. I came to Louisville to start a magazine, which failed after a few printings. I next worked as a research editor for a few months until I quit to freelance full-time.

My biggest client, other than Penguin Books, is Velocity. My work has appeared in Indianapolis Monthly, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the Washington, D.C. Examiner and the Associated Press newswire. I once wrote a column in LEO that nearly pissed off the whole town. My personal goal is to alienate 49 percent of the country so that I, too, can be president. They say any idiot can do it nowadays. I’ll even go 51 percent if I can get some buddies on the U.S. Supreme Court.

LEO: What are you trying to say with the book?

Bryan Harris: I’m trying to protect marriage from a pack of radical activists who, time and time again, abuse our system to mutate marriage to their own ends. Those people are, of course, Republicans. Many of my book’s subjects have acknowledged multiple divorces and affairs, and they still have the huevos to run on the morality platform. It’s time to send these guys home from the office for good.

LEO: How did you get the idea to collect it in a book, and how feasible did it seem at that point?

BH: These guys have dirty little scandals going back decades, so feasibility wasn’t even an issue. You could write a book on Dan Burton’s seedy sex scandals alone. Most of this isn’t new, but the mainstream media act like they’re too dainty to talk about sex even when the President is using it as a deciding issue. I wrote this book to demonstrate a pattern and explain who these people really are. I have a hard time believing a Christian farmer in the sticks of Kentucky would be sending the Republican National Committee $20 knowing that its Chief Financial Officer is out of the closet, and its National Field Director solicits unprotected sex from other men on the Internet. I got the basic idea from Penguin, who asked me to write it. I then stewed on it a bit and proposed something light, basic and fun to read. This is just a little 200-page stocking stuffer for the pissed off liberal in your family.

LEO: When is the release date, and what happens after that?

BH: The book comes out Thursday, Sept. 22. At this point, I have an advance copy of the book and a pair of publicists and an editor who communicate with me constantly. I’ve been to Penguin’s Manhattan office — it still seems unreal to me. There are days I still wake up and have to convince myself I’m actually a published author. I feel like I’m living somebody else’s exciting life right now.

The real publicity tour starts this week, as the book is released. I’m booked on Air America Radio, ABC network radio, a ton of top market talk shows and, most recently, “Brunch,” an afternoon show on the QTelevision network. National magazines OUT and The Advocate are both covering the book. I’ll be in Hollywood, Burbank and San Francisco during the first week of October, reading and signing. At 7 p.m., Oct. 12, I'll be reading and signing at Carmichael’s on Frankfort Avenue. To date, every copy of the first printing has been purchased by a bookstore, and they printed twice as many as the average first-time author usually gets. It’s just been tremendous. I’m hopeful that, somewhere, Bill O'Reilly knows we’re coming for him and his soapy loofah sponge.

I’d also like to say that it speaks volumes about Penguin that they’re willing to step up to the plate and take this big a risk, trusting a touchy subject with a new author, when so many other mainstream media outlets are scurrying under rocks. The lawyer they assigned to me said my little 200-page screed yielded the largest libel advisory he’s ever written.

LEO: Glad you brought that up. Do you feel pretty good about avoiding a libel claim by anyone mentioned in the book?

BH: This story, horrifying and grotesque as it is, is 100-percent true. If Newt Gingrich wants to come swear on a Bible that he didn’t lie and get head while trying to noose up Clinton for the same, I’d enjoy the opportunity to hear his side of it firsthand. As far as the out-of-court settlements mentioned in our book go, I don’t buy this guff of people settling gigantic lawsuits out of court to avoid being ruined by the publicity. People get equal opportunity to publicly defend themselves in court and, if it’s true they didn’t do it, they can defend themselves. The fact is, you don’t give somebody $400,000 to settle a gay sexual harassment claim unless they had something on you. FOX and Bill O’Reilly filed their pseudo-countersuit against Andrea Mackris before she even filed her harassment suit. Think about it: How did they know what it was going to say?

LEO: What sort of media training have you received in preparation for the various interviews you’ll be doing? These guys are gonna come after you hard.

BH: Can I get back to you on that? My publicist didn’t write the answer to that one down for me. I’m kidding, of course. I couldn’t stand to be that George Bush about things. At this point, I’ve been grilled by so many people from Penguin, including a lawyer, that I feel pretty prepared. You know, Ken Mehlman, the RNC chair and Bush’s most recent campaign manager, won’t comment on his sexual orientation. Well, it makes a difference when he has a significant stake in the discussion. I have a stake in the discussion, too. I'm not afraid to answer questions.

LEO: So you’re gay?

BH: No, gayness is too conventional for me. I’m freakier than that.

LEO: How would you describe your own political views? Are you a liberal, moderate, progressive, true conservative, Libertarian or none of the above?

BH: My buddy says, “Don't you miss the good old days when the biggest problem our country had was a blowjob?” I definitely do. I don’t wholly subscribe to any political ideology. I just despise authority. That alone makes me very popular among the far left and the far right alike. The only things that suck as bad as authoritarians are oppressors and hypocrites. It’s not like I even fault some of these people. If Henry Hyde or Jeff Gannon or Anne Coulter want to enjoy happy lives full of raunchy, anti-biblical sex, that’s lovely. I give slap and tickle my full political endorsement. But when a person crawls out of bed with a hangover to legislate morality into law, that’s disgusting. The only consistent moral thread I can find among the hypocrites in my book is they’re inside the Beltway, so they’re allowed to do whatever they want while doing unto us.

LEO: Sometimes people see that someone has written a book and assume the writer will get rich. So, are you rich?

BH: If I wanted a bunch of money, why the hell would I be writing for a living? We started into this with the philosophy of, “No expectations means no disappointments.” But it’s hard to keep a straight face when you’re being flown around, picked up, photographed and interviewed. One way or another, I’m fulfilling my destiny. If a safe falls on my head this October, I’ll die a published author. What more can I ask for?

LEO: If you did happen to become independently wealthy, through this book or some other endeavor, describe your dream life. Would you be more likely to emulate Gandhi, Mark Cuban, John Yarmuth (LEO’s founder and executive editor) or Caligula?

BH: I’m 180 degrees from a pacifist, so Gandhi is out. Yarmuth is more thoughtful and scholarly than I am. Those are great virtues, but for now I’m too full of vinegar. Mark Cuban is a self-made man, and an IU alum and I generally identify with him. But, then again, I’ve never bought a movie about Mark Cuban.

Contact writer Cary Stemle at

The O’Reilly Factor: My name is loofah

The following is an excerpt from Bryan Harris’ forthcoming book, “The Sanctity of Marriage Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Marriage Between a Man and a Woman” (Penguin Group; 2005; $9.95). It is reprinted in its entirety with permission.


Bill O’Reilly blows harder than almost any blowhard in the world, but he’s strangely oblique when it comes to same-sex marriage (even if his talk-show guests are not).

O’Reilly claims he’s the son of a working-class family from the original suburb, Levittown, New York. This blue-collar background, however, has been rejected by O’Reilly’s opponents, who point out that the talk-show host attended the prestigious boys’ high school Chaminade. O’Reilly also attended Marist College, Boston University, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has a pair of Emmys for excellence in reporting won while practicing local journalism in Denver and, later, for CBS, honors that led him, naturally, to “Hard Copy,” a show that did for news what “Baywatch” did for serious prime-time television.

The big day came when Fox needed another vocal supporter for their public service department (Divisions of Election Derailing and Spouting of Republican Dogma and Calling It Objective News). Once comfortably seated behind the desk, O’Reilly followed the Limbaugh tradition of “If it’s loud, it must be true.” The “Fair and Balanced” network’s “no-spin” commentator racked up multiple years atop the ratings charts, launching best-selling books and a successful radio show, all by riding a hard-line of conservatism and moral outrage.

His Personal Commitment

In a book about marriage and old, rich men trying to bang the help, O’Reilly fits right in (or: allegedly fits right in). On October 14, 2004, O’Reilly and Fox filed suit against associate producer Andrea Mackris for trying to extort “hush money” from O’Reilly and the company. That same day, Mackris filed a countersuit for a whopping $60 million.

What an ungrateful bitch. This, after O’Reilly offered Mackris a Caribbean vacation! So what if he wanted to tag along? His wife and two kids would understand that papa had work to do. Work like painting vivid scenes for Mackris (later quoted in her lawsuit):

You would basically be in the shower, and then I would — and then I would come in and I’d join you and you would have your back to me and I would take that little loofah thing and kinda’ soap up your back ... rub it all over you, get you to relax, hot water ... and um ... you know, you’d feel the tension drain out of you and, uh, you still would be with your back to me then I would kinda’ put my arm — it’s one of those mitts, those loofah mitts you know, so I got my hands in it ... and I would put it around front, kinda’ rub your tummy a little bit with it and then with my other hand I would start to massage your boobs, get your nipples really hard ... ’cuz I like that, and you have really spectacular boobs ...

For someone who’s so articulate on television, something’s sure got O’Reilly tongue-tied. And Mackris? Jesus, how did she resist the image of a naked Bill O’Reilly coming at her with a soapy loofah sponge!

So the Caribbean didn’t work out. What about Italy? Or Thailand? According to Mackris’s papers, O’Reilly’s been known to score in such exotic locales:

… During the course of this dinner, in approximately May 2003, Defendant Bill O’Reilly, without solicitation or invite, regaled plaintiff and her friend with stories concerning the loss of his virginity to a girl in a car at JFK, two “really wild” Scandinavian airline stewardesses he had gotten together with, and a “girl” at a sex show in Thailand who had shown him things in a back room that “blew [his] mind.” Defendant then stated he was going to Italy to meet the Pope, that his pregnant wife was staying at home with his daughter, and implied he was looking forward to some extramarital dalliances with the “hot” Italian women. Both Plaintiff and her friend were repulsed, but felt powerless to protest strongly since Defendant was Plaintiff’s boss ...

O’Reilly’s suit against Mackris, which was filed hours before Mackris’s suit, claimed the former producer was extorting him. Although his lawyers, in a triumph of alliteration, called Mackris’s charges “scurrilous and scandalous,” they never denied them.

These days, when he’s not railing against the liberals (or enjoying his loofah sponge), O’Reilly writes kids’ books. In his book “The O’Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for American Families,” O’Reilly offered advice for dealing with challenging situations. It did not include this piece of advice he once doled out to a younger person: “… Defendant Bill O’Reilly said to Plaintiff Andrea Mackris: ‘And just use your vibrator to blow off steam.’”

Morality Score

Televised conservative rants: too many to count. Images that can never be scrubbed clean from your brain: one. $60 million harassment suits settled out of court: one.

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