May 1 2009

A Dishonest Villain’s Worst Garbage

Editor's Note

Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor has become notorious for its ambinterviews of those who cross host Bill O’Reilly. The best-known recent example was Factor producer Jesse Waters’ trailing Amanda Terkel, managing editor at Think Progress, for two hours across Virginia to badger her about a blog post she had written.

Terkel’s post (3/1/09) had noted that the Fox host was speaking at a fundraiser for a foundation for rape survivors, then quoted O’Reilly’s suggestion (Radio Factor, 8/2/06) that a “moronic” rape/murder victim had invited assault by drinking and dressing provocatively. Terkel let the quote speak for itself; the most critical thing she had to say about O’Reilly was that his comments were “controversial.”

In a segment (3/23/09) airing the results of his stalking expedition, O’Reilly presented the uproar over his speaking at a dinner for the Alexa Foundation as a conspiracy masterminded by “elements at NBC News.” (O’Reilly referred to NBC president Jeff Zucker, with more than a whiff of paranoia, as “the man behind the curtain.”) But the person O’Reilly went after directly was Terkel, whom the segment referred to as “a villain” who was “just dishonest,” accusing her of producing “perhaps the worst garbage” about O’Reilly’s suitability as an anti-rape advocate.

O’Reilly proudly aired footage of Watters pressing Terkel to explain “the Mel Gibson component to Bill’s analysis”–the context from which O’Reilly’s remarks about “moronic” murder victim Jennifer Moore had supposedly been yanked. Terkel did not immediately recall this aspect of the three-year-old broadcast, but when she subsequently looked it up, she discovered the connection that O’Reilly drew between the actor’s anti-Semitic tirade and the murder victim’s death (Think Progress, 3/23/09):

I think it’s safe to say that if Mel Gibson didn’t get drunk, he wouldn’t be in this terrible situation he finds himself in. And if a young woman, 18-year-old Jennifer Moore of Harrington Park, N.J., didn’t get drunk, she’d be alive today.

Hateful as O’Reilly’s blame-the-victim rhetoric about Moore was, O’Reilly has stooped even lower, suggesting that an 11-year-old boy who was kidnapped and then molested over a four-year period didn’t escape his abductor because he enjoyed his captivity (O’Reilly Factor, 1/15/07):

And the question is, why didn’t [Shawn Hornbeck] escape when he could have?… The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn’t have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted…I think when it all comes down, what’s going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances.

Women invite assault by the way they dress; kids like to be raped. To quote Bill O’Reilly out of context: “It doesn’t get much more evil than that.”