Do as Bill O’Reilly Does and He’ll Hit You With His Umbrella

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly claims he was accosted by a “screaming” man “armed with a cell phone camera” on December 7 while walking to a media party at the White House in Washington, D.C. On his show the next night (O’Reilly Factor, 12/8/11), O’Reilly explained,

I told the guy to get lost, but he came closer and closer, armed with a cell phone camera. When he was about a foot away, I turned to shield myself and my assistant with an umbrella. At this point, we were just a few feet away from the White House gate.

According to O’Reilly, at the White House gate he tried to get the Secret Service and the D.C. police to arrest the man, but was told by a police officer that according to the law, no assault had occurred. Claiming the police had also told him that his tormenter was a member of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Fox News host concluded his commentary with an attack on OWS:

Ironically, a few nights ago, I told you bad things were going to happen because these occupy protesters are becoming increasingly aggressive. But I never thought it was going to happen to me. However, these anarchists are now everywhere.

The problem with O’Reilly’s account is–just about everything. As the videotape posted by interviewer Branden Lane shows, he was not screaming, he was much more than a foot away when O’Reilly opened his umbrella at him (apparently hitting his camera in the process), and did not appear threatening as he straightforwardly asked O’Reilly if he was returning from a fundraiser for Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich.

One could argue that the man was less threatening and intrusive, and more professional, than the video teams O’Reilly sends to ambush subjects while they are at their homes or on vacation or when they are with their young children. In fact, O’Reilly’s producers have actually physically interfered with subjects on some of their ambush stakeouts.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.