The anatomy of an ambush: O'Reilly's ambush of Amanda was sparked by a short piece that she wrote on March 1 highlighting the fact that O'Reilly had been invited to speak at a fundraiser for a rape victims support group, the Alexa Foundation. Amanda noted in response, "O'Reilly has made controversial comments about an 18-year-old woman, Jennifer Moore, who was raped and murdered, implying that it was partially her fault." Indeed, O'Reilly called Moore "moronic" and implied that because she was "wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff" and had been drinking, she should have expected to be assaulted, raped, and murdered. Nowhere in her piece did Amanda comment on the Alexa Foundation itself. O'Reilly, however, couldn't stand to see Amanda highlight his offensive commentary, so he sent Watters after her. Last Saturday, Amanda left her Washington, D.C. home for a weekend trip to Winchester, VA. After driving two hours, Amanda checked into her lodgings and then decided to take a walk. As she left the hotel, Watters approached Amanda with a cameraman in tow and demanded that she explain why she had caused "pain and suffering" to rape victims and the Alexa Foundation. Amanda had told no one where she was going, so she concluded that Watters and his cameraman had "staked out my apartment and then followed me for two hours" (Amanda recalls that a tan SUV had been tracking her car). O'Reilly then spliced footage from the Watters's ambush interview to characterize Amanda as "evil" and "certainly a villain." O'Reilly never showed his audience what Amanda actually wrote and never played what he said about Moore, nor did he explain how his henchmen tracked her down.
O'reilly's bullying tactics: In August 2007, O'Reilly defended his ambush tactics, claiming that they are "a vital tool in holding public servants accountable for their actions" and that "we do not go after people lightly." "We always ask them on the program first or to issue a clear statement explaining their actions," he said. In Amanda's case, no one at the O'Reilly Factor or Fox News attempted to contact her for comment or a chance to appear on O'Reilly's show before stalking and ambushing her in rural Virginia. In all, O'Reilly's ambush tactics have been used on nearly 40 different individuals. Some are public servants, but many are private citizens who work at non-profit foundations, while others work as journalists, priests, actors, and authors. A woman who wrote an op-ed for Newsday suggesting that shock jocks could in some cases be inspiring violent acts, was ambushed by O'Reilly's henchmen in her driveway. Michael Hoyt, executive editor for the Columbia Journalism Review, was ambushed as he tried to board a public bus, while Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, was ambushed in a restaurant while having dinner. Such ambushes are not journalism and are hardly distinguishable from the paparazzi journalists that O'Reilly calls "the scum of the earth."
Stopping the machine: We need to Stop O'Reilly's Harassment Machine. Therefore, ThinkProgress has launched an e-mail campaign asking O'Reilly's major corporate sponsors to issue a clear statement opposing O'Reilly's "ambush journalism." As Amanda explained on MSNBC's Keith Olbermann last night, "This is not a liberal or conservative issue." Olbermann agreed, saying in reference to ambush journalism tactics, "It's inappropriate. There are some rules here and they apply in both directions to everybody." At least some of O'Reilly's sponsors appear to agree as well. In the 48 hours since ThinkProgress first launched its campaign, over 5,000 e-mails have been sent to O'Reilly's advertisers.Ford, AT&T, UPS, and Capital One have all responded. UPS said in a statement, "We are sensitive to the type of television programming where our messages and presence are associated and continually review choices to affect future decisions. Further investigation is underway related to this placement." Similarly, Capital One said, "We regret that you found the Bill O'Reilly programming during which one of our ads was aired to be offensive. ... Capital One in no way endorses the views/opinions portrayed during the news broadcasts in which we advertise." Despite this, a number of prominent advertisers including Audi, Hyundai, Johnson and Johnson, Bayer, and Proctor & Gamble have yet to respond. O'Reilly complained on air about the campaign, calling ThinkProgress "insects" for "going after" his sponsors. If you want to help get under O'Reilly's skin and put an end to his ambush and harassment tactics, ask his advertisers to express their disapproval of his tactics. Click here to help Stop the O'Reilly Harassment Machine.
Why Is Bill O'Reilly Attacking Me for Highlighting His Rape Comments?
By Amanda Terkel, Think Progress,
As promised, tonight, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly aired his segment alleging that ThinkProgress caused “pain and suffering” to rape victims. Our unspeakable offense was contained in a March 1 blog post, which reported that O’Reilly had been invited to speak at a fundraising dinner for the Alexa Foundation, which supports rape survivors.
Our post highlighted the fact that in the past, O’Reilly has implied that women who dress in a certain way or consume too much alcohol should perhaps expect to be raped. Here is what he said on his radio show on Aug. 2, 2006, about Jennifer Moore, an 18-year-old woman who was raped and murdered:
Now Moore, Jennifer Moore, 18, on her way to college. She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning. She’s walking by herself on the West Side Highway, and she gets picked up by a thug. All right. Now she’s out of her mind, drunk.
Our postnever criticized the Alexa Foundation. Nevertheless, tonight on his show, O’Reilly claimed that ThinkProgress — working with NBC News — deliberately tried to cause pain and suffering for these rape victims. To make his point, he aired ahighly-edited ambush interviewwith me from this past Saturday and concluded, “While Ms. Terkel is certainly a villain, she was obviously used by NBC News.”
Here are the two things that O’Reilly conveniently left out of his segment:
– His Original Comments. O’Reilly said that he posted the full Aug. 2 interview about Moore on his website. (It’s here.) But he did not repeat his comments on air, nor did he try to defend them — perhaps recognizing that they are indefensible. These comments elicited outrage from more than 900 signatories to a petition by the Concerned Citizens Against Sexual Violence.
– His Harassment. O’Reilly never mentioned to his viewers how he scored that interview with me. He never contacted me for a statement or the chance to appear on his show before deploying his harassment machine. Instead, he sent his producers to stake out my apartment, follow me for two hours, and accost me while I was on vacation in Virginia (and the least prepared to recall a post I had written three weeks earlier).
Producer Jesse Watters — who carried out the stalking and harassment — was right; I didn’t remember O’Reilly’s comments about Mel Gibson in that interview. While O’Reilly may think that on vacation, women sit around thinking about his old radio interviews — prepared to talk about them at any moment — the truth is that they don’t. However, we went back and checked out those specific comments, in which he equates Gibson getting drunk and making anti-Semitic comments to a woman getting raped while she is drunk:
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, NJ, didn’t get drunk, she’d be alive today.
To recap: I write a blog post highlighting comments O’Reilly made during his radio show. He sends his henchmen to harass me. I can’t immediately recall a three-year old O’Reilly interview when accosted on the street. He refuses to explain or apologize for implying that a dead rape victim should have been expecting the crime. And I’m the villain.
Amanda Terkel is Deputy Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Deputy Editor for The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress.
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