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O'Reilly Harasses Young Female In Response To Allegations He's Insensitive To Rape Victims

Reported by Ellen - March 24, 2009 -

Bill O'Reilly's “Reality Check” segment last night (3/23/09) needs a reality check, itself. Apparently stung by the outrage that ensued when it became well known that he would be speaking at a fundraiser for rape victims, he made an obviously calculated decision to harass and smear a young woman named Amanda Terkel, of the Center for American Progress, in retaliation. Terkel's “offense,” as O'Reilly saw it, was to pick up on News Hounds' February 28 post about why we thought it inappropriate for O'Reilly to be the fundraiser's speaker. In response, O'Reilly sicced his ambush go-to guy, Jesse Watters, on Terkel. He followed her for two hours last weekend for the sole purpose of ambushing her over a topic he knew she'd not likely be able to discuss off the top of her head and then attacking her when she couldn't. Somehow, that “proved” to O'Reilly that Terkel was part of some evil conspiracy, along with NBC and Media Matters, to smear him and harm rape victims. O'Reilly also seemed to think that by doing so, he had disproved the well-documented allegations of his shocking insensitivity toward women and rape victims. With video.

The saga began on February 28, when we discovered that O'Reilly was the scheduled guest for a fundraiser for a foundation dedicated to helping rape victims. Knowing O'Reilly's disreputable record on rape victims and his dubious history with women, we posted our disappproval. Terkel, who had nothing to do with the original post, picked it up and posted about the fundraiser, herself. The issue resonated in the blogosphere and made its way to Keith Olbermann who made several broadcasts agreeing that O'Reilly was not an appropriate spokesman for rape victims.

But the foundation involved decided to go ahead with O'Reilly anyway. We considered the matter old news. But not O'Reilly. Evidently waiting until after his speech on Thursday, March 19, his producer ambushed Terkel, while she was on vacation rather than just emailing or phoning her, to confront her about her post. Then, after shoving a camera and a microphone in her face and asking her about the three-week old post that was by now a non-issue, producer Watters falsely accused her of “attacking (O'Reilly) personally. And you attacked the foundation and you brought a lot of pain and suffering to this group.”

Terkel rightly stated that she had never attacked either O'Reilly or the foundation personally. Terkel merely questioned the suitability of O'Reilly as a speaker based on his public comments.

Rather than offer any evidence to the contrary, Watters went on to ask the gotcha question, “What was the Mel Gibson component to Bill's analysis?”

As Terkel has pointed out, there is no “Mel Gibson component” that's relevant to the offensive comments O'Reilly made about rape victim Jennifer Moore:

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.

The “Mel Gibson” component that Watters referred to was O'Reilly's statement, “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.”

I seriously doubt that anyone offended by O'Reilly's remarks about Moore would be mollified by what he said about Gibson. But if Watters (or O'Reilly) wanted a “fair and balanced” discussion about Terkel's post, they never would have approached her this way. Further proving they were only out to get her, Watters immediately accused Terkel of not listening to “the Mel Gibson” component because “You're just dishonest.” Continuing to berate her, Watters said, “You didn't hear the entire thing. You don't know the context and you owe everybody an apology because you brought a lot of pain and suffering to this rape victim and this foundation and her family.” He never bothered to explain how she had done so.

If not getting the whole context means you're dishonest, then Watters and O'Reilly certainly proved their own deceit in this segment. In his intro to the ambush, O'Reilly falsely claimed Terkel had “led that charge (against the foundation)” once she “picked up some propaganda from the hate group, Media Matters." Had either O'Reilly or Watters bothered to read Terkel's post, they would have known she got the information from us, because she said so right at the beginning, and with a link. A search of Media Matters for “It Happened to Alexa,” the name of the foundation, yields no results except a post about the waylaying of Terkel. Maybe O'Reilly thinks Media Matters found the post on our site and, in an effort to hide their footprints, offered the material to Terkel. He never explained how he "knew" they started the controversy - probably because they didn't.

O'Reilly also distorted the nature of our criticisms against him in a way that just happened to place him in a more flattering light. Rather than admit he had been accused of insensitivity to rape victims and accused of sexual harassment, O'Reilly falsely claimed we had said he was “unsympathetic to the plight of crime victims – a preposterous lie.” He's right, it was a preposterous lie. But neither we nor Terkel told it.

After the ambush of Terkel, O'Reilly said, “Well, Ms. Terkel is certainly a villain. She was obviously used by NBC News.” Yet Mr. Make-sure-you-get-all-your-facts O'Reilly never explained the connection between Terkel and NBC other than the fact that NBC had picked up on the issue after she had.

It was caddish enough for O'Reilly to deliberately set up Terkel this way. It was beyond caddish to do so in an attempt to extricate himself from charges of being a sexual goon.