Cross-posted from The Huffington Post
Abusive people often accuse others -- especially those who would challenge their behavior -- of the very act they themselves commit. And so we find Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor", accusing Think Progress blogger Amanda Terkel of bringing pain and suffering to a rape victim and her family.
Terkel's crime? Weeks before O'Reilly's scheduled appearance at a fundraising event for a rape-victim advocacy group, she reminded her readers that, on his radio show, O'Reilly had once blamed Jennifer Moore, a rape victim, and Moore's parents (segment starts at around 36) for the young woman's own rape and murder.
But it wasn't enough for O'Reilly to call out Terkel on his prime-time cable TV show. No, he apparently sent his male producer to stalk Terkel on a weekend day trip to a Virginia town two hours away from Terkel's Washington, DC, home, leading Terkel to assume that the O'Reilly crew had followed her on the highway in order to ambush her during her leisure time. At the ambush, O'Reilly producer Jesse Watters accused Terkel of bringing pain and suffering to rape victim Alexa Branchini and her family, apparently because Terkel had pointed out what O'Reilly said about the murdered Jennifer Moore: that she was "moronic", saying:
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.He equated Moore's fate with that of Mel Gibson, whose drunken anti-Semitic tirade -- which only expressed more crudely beliefs Gibson had stated while apparently sober --led to his own, self-induced public shaming.
Even more galling was O'Reilly's blaming of Moore's parents, not two week's after their daughter's brutal murder, for not having had the 18-year-old under curfew. No infliction of pain and suffering there, huh? Your daughter's body is found in a dumpster, and some blowhard with millions of listeners is describing your daughter as a drunk who all but deserved her fate, and blaming you for failing as a parent. The compassion virtually drips.
If you read Terkel's initial post about O'Reilly's slated appearance before the It Happened to Alexa Foundation, you will see that she in no way points a finger at Alexa Branchini or her family for having invited O'Reilly to speak at their fundraiser, however baffling that invitation might seem. She simply noted the invitation, and block-quoted the O'Reilly quote about Jennifer Moore that I highlight above.
For that sin, O'Reilly apparently chose to have a man stalk Terkel to accuse her, on video, of things she did not do -- but things O'Reilly has indeed done -- echoing the mindset of the kind of men who thrive on abusing women. (Lindsay Beyerstein reminds us that O'Reilly settled, out of court, a sexual harassment claim by his own producer.) O'Reilly is legendary for name-calling and false accusations, but when an organization like Media Matters (for which I have worked and whose mission I support) simply posts a transcript of something O'Reilly has said, he accuses the organization of "smearing" him. Smearing him with what? His own words?
It's not news that Bill O'Reilly is a bully. When kept to his side of the camera lens, that's his First Amendment right. And it's his producer's First Amendment right to ask questions on the street of any who would deign to answer them. But there's nothing moral in the physical stalking of a young woman blogger who simply noted on her blog something your boss said about a rape and murder victim. In fact, it's downright sinister, and typifies the threatening behavior to which young women are too often subjected by men who hate women.
It's time for the media community to weigh in and condemn this kind of hateful, bullying behavior of those who dare to report the truth.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Cross-posted from The Huffington Post