Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The thuggery of Bill O'Reilly

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So what does Bill O'Reilly do to you when he doesn't like you? Well, among other things, he sics his goons on you -- or at least his producers.

Amanda Terkel of Think Progress, for example, was stalked, ambushed, and, given what any woman on her own would feel when approached by strangers, threatened by producer Jesse Watters, "O'Reilly's top hit man," and a camera man -- all because Terkel dared to question why O'Reilly had been asked to speak at a fundraiser for the Alexa Foundation, an organization that supports rape victims. And why did she do that? Because, to put it mildly, O'Reilly hasn't exactly been sympathetic to rape victims, implying on more than one occasion that "women who dress in a certain way or consume too much alcohol should perhaps expect to be raped."

Here's what happened to Amanda:

This weekend, while on vacation, I was ambushed by O'Reilly's top hit man, producer Jesse Watters, who accosted me on the street and told me that because I highlighted O’Reilly's comments, I was causing "pain and suffering" to rape victims and their families. He of course offered no proof to back up this claim, instead choosing to shout questions at me.

I expect O'Reilly to air this "interview" at some point this week, possibly as early as tonight. I have no expectation that he will show the entire altercation or give the entire story about what happened, so here is the full account, offering a glimpse inside the O'Reilly harrassment machine:

The Stalking: Watters and his camera man accosted me at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, in Winchester, VA, which is a two-hour drive from Washington, DC. My friend and I were in this small town for a short weekend vacation and had told no one about where we were going. I can only infer that the two men staked out my apartment and then followed me for two hours. Looking back, my friend and I remember seeing their tan SUV following us for much of the trip.

The Ambush: Shortly after checking into our lodgings, we emerged and immediately saw two men walking toward us calling out my name. Watters said he was from Fox News, but never said his or his companion's name, nor did he say he was with The O'Reilly Factor.

The Surprise Attack: Watters immediately began asking me why I was causing "pain and suffering" to the Alexa Foundation. He never gave me the context for his questions. Confused, I repeatedly asked him what he was talking about and whether he could refresh my memory, but he just continued shouting his question.

The Evasion: I said that it was inappropriate for O'Reilly to imply that just because a woman may be drunk and/or dressed in a certain way, she should expect to be raped. Watters asked me whether I had listened to the interview (which I had) and claimed that O’Reilly had made the comments in the context of a commentary on Mel Gibson/drunkenness. When I tried to ascertain why he was attacking ThinkProgress in particular — even though other sites had also covered the story — he said that we were part of the "smear pipeline," which also included the "Soros-funded" Media Matters. He ignored my comments when I asked if Fox News also smears people.

Setting A Guilt Trap: Watters ended the charade by demanding that I look into the camera and apologize to the Alexa Foundation and rape victims. I told them that I don't speak through Fox News and if someone from the Alexa Foundation would like to personally call me, I'd be happy to speak with that person.

More Stalking: The camera man then continued to film me as I walked down the block. After a few minutes while I waited at the light to cross the street, Watters called him back and they left.

Ugly, ugly, ugly. And pretty much what you'd expect from O'Reilly.

This is how he operates, how he pushes people around. It isn't just loud-mouthed bluster, it's aggressive harassment. O'Reilly is a thug, both in speech and in deed, and, if nothing else, this incident shows us once again just what sort of a person he really is.

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