Bill O’Reilly just can’t let go of a racially-tinged case out of Norfolk, Virginia that nobody involved wants him a part of. Last night, O’Reilly crowed with victory over the release of 911 tapes O’Reilly has apparently spent the last eight months trying to obtain – in the name of the public interest. But we can recall how the public’s right to know never factored (pardon the pun) into a certain set of tapes in which Fox News’ most highly-rated news host was reportedly sexually harassing a producer. You listen to the Virginia 911 tapes and tell me which you think the public would rather hear.
You may recall that last May, O’Reilly seized on an incident in which some white reporters for the Virginian-Pilot were attacked by a black mob. Here’s how our Margarita described the situation in our original write up of the case:
Since the Trayvon Martin murder, Fox News seems to be making a full-time job of digging up news items about black people assaulting white people, and using them to bash the liberal media for selective reporting. Last night, Bill O’Reilly found another one: a tale of two reporters for the Pilot newspaper in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, who were attacked by a mob of African-American men after their car stopped at a stoplight, and beaten sufficiently badly as to be off work for a week. What particularly outraged O’Reilly was that the reporters’ own newspaper didn’t report the crime for two weeks, and that police had not charged anybody (update: as of today, the paper reports, one person has been charged).
Forget any kind of dispassionate look at race in our criminal justice system. Bill O’Reilly doesn’t need no stinkin’ facts when he’s out on the prowl looking out for white people you and the folks. Here’s what I wrote about O’Reilly’s interview with Virginia radio talk show host Dave Parker a few weeks after the incident:
Parker said the community is satisfied with the way the case has been going and expects a “measured” response. He also noted that the two reporters – the real victims of the crime – are “exceptionally happy” with the way the case is proceeding. In other words, Virginians don’t want O’Reilly butting in and inflaming the situation.
“All we want is justice to be done,” O’Reilly reiterated. Then, he went on to stir the racial pot by saying that if the reporters had been black, they never would have been attacked. “But the people of Norfolk don’t want to be branded with that label - for economic reasons, for pride reasons.” Apparently, they (and we) need O’Reilly to be a racial “truthteller” for them. And yet, O’Reilly has offered up very few details about what who was arrested, what for and what kind of evidence there is.
But as Parker went on to let O’Reilly know that his listeners take great exception to having their community portrayed as having a race problem, O’Reilly insisted he was not tarring the “law-abiding people.” He added, “We were saying that there were (sic) a mob of blacks, who attacked two whites, simply because they were white. There’s no other reason on earth, OK. And the community tried to cover it up. All of that is true. Now, if they attacked two whites, then you got a problem. You got a problem, Mr. Parker!”
“This could have happened anywhere,” crusader O’Reilly acknowledged. “But it did happen and we had to shed light on it in order to get justice. We think that justice now in motion and that’s a good thing.”
Finally, after O’Reilly got a talking to from Fox-Friendly Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and used the case to tarnish U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (D and African American) for not turning the matter into some kind of federal hate crime, he seemed to have dropped it.
But, as it turns out, O’Reilly was only lying in wait. After two Freedom Of Information Requests by Crusader O’Reilly, not only has this case been resurrected, O’Reilly made it the focus of his talking points commentary that opened his show last night and called it, “A Travesty of Justice in Norfolk, VA.”
O’Reilly played the 911 recording that included a hysterical woman, presumably the passenger in the car who was attacked, only to be replaced by the male driver, David Forster, who said, in a calm voice, “I was stopped at a light and somebody threw something at my car and I stepped out and said something and then about 10 guys came over and jumped me.” There were also other witnesses who had apparently called in saying that the guy had been kicked and attacked. The fact that Forster sounded calm and unhurt and acknowledged that he may have inflamed the situation was completely ignored by truth-seeking O’Reilly.
Instead, he focused like a laser beam on the fact that charges were dropped against three out of four teens and that the one who was convicted got a sentence of probation and ordered to pay $352 in restitution. And suggesting that the Virginian-Pilot had committed its own media crime (always a subtext in this story). He intoned:
While investigating this story it became apparent the City of Norfolk did not want to aggressively pursue the case and even more troubling, the editor of the Virginian-Pilot, where the two victims work, played it down.
Funny, I thought O’Reilly believed in letting localities deal with local matters. But I guess that’s not for a Looking-Out-For-You guy like Bill O’Reilly!
He played a clip from his ambush interview with the Virginian-Pilot editor who said this was a “street altercation” and there was “no evidence” this was a racial attack. “Bull!” O’Reilly declared. “Talking Points believes this was not a simple street altercation. And there was no question it was a mob attack. Whether it was based on race is debatable."
For a group of assailants to beat up two innocent Americans with dozens of witnesses watching and virtually nothing happens to them – well, this is a true travesty of justice.
Not that O’Reilly bothered to get any of the facts as to why the charges were dropped and/or reduced. He was too busy being the big bully in the guise of a do-gooder. In this case, O’Reilly suggested he was going to happily threaten Norfolk’s tourism business:
The City of Norfolk depends on tourism. It’s obvious they don’t want this story in the public arena. But my job here is to tell you the truth and expose wrongdoing.
So would this “cover up” be similar to the way O’Reilly and Fox News covered up allegations of sexual harassment from former producer Andrea Mackris - by settling the case and then not discussing it further, i.e. not letting the public know the truth about the No Spin guy? Just asking!
Enter Megyn Kelly. With a voice of deep concern, she reported that the male victim is “doing fine” and “we don’t know” but “have every reason to believe” the woman “has recovered.” O’Reilly acknowledged that both are back at the paper, although it’s not clear whether they are happy or not with the outcome. Although Kelly is an attorney, she, too, offered almost no information as to why the charges were dropped, what the evidence against the defendants was, what kind of criminal background or not the kids had and whether Forster's role in the altercation might have been considered a mitigating factor.
Her voice rising in indignation, Kelly changed the subject away from the criminal case. She declared, “Forget Bill O’Reilly! The public is entitled to those tapes!” That launched Kelly on an attack against Virginia and/or the Virginian-Pilot for not turning the tapes over in the first place.
And now that we’ve all heard them, Factor viewers are probably yawning across the country. Nothing like the reaction those O’Reilly/Mackris tapes would get, though.
But, unlike The Factor (supposedly), the Virginian-Pilot “isn’t interested in the news.” They're interested in “protecting the image of the city because that’s where the money is made in tourism.”
Kind of like protecting the image of Fox News and their top-rated show host!
Have no fear Truth and Justice fans. O’Reilly suggested we’d hear more about this all-important case in the future.