Bill O’Reilly is still hot on the case of the two white reporters attacked and beaten by an indeterminate number (somewhere between five and 100) of black youths in a housing project in Norfolk, Virginia. He’s intent on proving that it was a racially motivated assault and that the reporters’ own newspaper, the Virginian Pilot, covered it up out of liberal political correctness. Last night, for the fourth night in a row, he used his show to hammer us over the head with the case.
Since the editor of the Pilot, Denis Finley, declined an interview with O’Reilly, he sent the obnoxious Jesse Watters out to ambush him. Watters tracked Finley to his car and a confrontation ensued thereupon. Finley maintained firmly that "the story has been blown out of proportion... What it amounts to is a -- a street altercation, not a mob attack. No evidence that it was a racial attack." "You know," Watters pressed him, "if you have black mobs... beating up white people, you don't think that the community deserves to know that?"
In his Talking Points Memo, O’Reilly agreed with Watters. "Here is some advice to Mr. Finley, it's your job to find out whether it was racially-motivated. That's what the press does. You don't sit around wondering and ignoring the story. That's absurd."
Watters did more than run Finley down. He entered the project and found at least two kids who said they saw what happened. I don’t know whether he interviewed anyone else or whether they were the only ones he interviewed who backed up the O’Reilly story line. Anyway, when Watters asked one of them, "Was this a racial thing like a Trayvon Martin situation?" the boy replied, "I think so." Later, though, when O’Reilly asked Watters whether he himself thought the attack was racially motivated, he hedged a bit. "Personally I don't think they hate white people but they did tell me they target white people because it gives them street credit."
The Factor didn’t stop in Norfolk. They interviewed Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who says his office will not intervene. Then they called Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell who said he would take a look at the case. What a relief, said O’Reilly. "The Governor has the power to order a state investigation which this situation badly needs."
(Gee. They interviewed the editor, some kids from the project, the state Attorney General and the Governor. With all that diligence I wonder why they didn’t get interviews with the victims. I do recall, from an earlier episode, that the victims themselves didn’t want the story reported, and that O’Reilly dismissed those scruples on the grounds that the Public Has the Right To Know. O’Reilly also reports that the victims have received death threats and have security guards protecting them. This coverage isn’t going to make them any safer, now is it, gentle reader?)
O’Reilly finished his Talking Points Memo by bragging that Fox News is the only national media outlet that is reporting the case. "It is inconceivable that had a white mob set upon two black Americans the media would sit it out. But that's what's happening in the Virginia case." Evidently not trusting the ability of the Norfolk gang unit to do its job, O’Reilly promised to continue covering the story, and trying to get the Governor to intervene.
OK, gentle reader, this is a complex case and I wasn’t there when it happened. And it does seem like the coverage has embarrassed the police into doing a better job of investigating it. But even supposing this is proven to be a racially motivated attack, the is Factor doing America no favor at all by fanning the kind of hatred that’s burning up the Fox comment sections.
At least the online preview of tonight's Factor doesn't mention this story. Whew. Maybe we'll get a break.