Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Ellen at NewsHounds has a good rundown on the many times Bill O'Reilly and his minions have tried to intimidate those who challenged them. This didn't just start in the present situation, in which O'Reilly has threatened reporters at The New York Times and Mother Jones. After writing something critical about O'Reilly, Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post was ambushed by an O'Reilly producer.
Terkel also noted that O’Reilly has also ambushed columnist Cynthia Tucker, then of the Atlanta Journal-constitution, after she criticized O’Reilly and Seattle Post-Intelligencer editor and publisher Rogers Oglesby. A quick Google search also uncovered O'Reilly ambushes of New Yorker Editor Hendrik Hertzberg, after he wrote something about Newt Gingrich O’Reilly didn’t like, former PBS host Bill Moyers, producer and director of Outfoxed, Robert Greenwald, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and the editor of the Virginian Pilot, Denis Finley.
In this case, of course, O'Reilly is not just sending underlings out to ambush reporters -- he's personally issuing threats. At New York magazine, Gabriel Sherman says that's because this story is an obvious winner for O'Reilly:
Thanks to the Mother Jones article, O’Reilly has been given an opportunity to wage war against a phalanx of liberal media aggressors. This is what his audience expects.

Since joining Fox News at the network’s launch in 1996, O’Reilly built the biggest audience in cable news by appealing to viewers’ sense of cultural victimhood at the hands of coastal elites and the mainstream media. His boss Roger Ailes runs the network not like a news organization, but as a political campaign. In Ailes's world, factual accuracy matters less than whether an anchor is advancing the daily agenda. Which is why the Mother Jones article has been such a boon for O’Reilly and Fox. The allegations, dredged up from the early 1980s, lack the punch of Stars & Stripes' report on Williams's Iraq embellishment and can be seen by Fox's viewers as a nasty swipe at their biggest star. As a piece of journalism, Mother Jones raised legitimate questions about O'Reilly's past claims. As politics, they threw him a meatball to hit out of the park.
Sherman suggests that a different sort of scandal might seriously threaten O'Reilly -- in fact, once upon a time, one actually did, Sherman says:
One indication that O'Reilly is waging a calculated media campaign is to compare his ferocious response to a true scandal with career-ending implications: the 2004 lawsuit by a Fox News producer named Andrea Mackris, who accused O'Reilly of having lurid phone sex. In my biography of Ailes, I reported how Ailes and Rupert Murdoch were furious at O’Reilly for creating the humiliating mess. Ailes instructed O'Reilly that if he spoke out in public, he was in danger of losing his show. Aside from a handful of muted comments, O’Reilly remained silent about the allegations. His ratings held, and O'Reilly hung on to his job.

This time around, Ailes is giving O’Reilly the freedom to open fire.
Sherman is offering a selective reading of his own book. It's true that O'Reilly -- at Fox's insistence -- refrained from public comments on Mackris's suit, but Mackris, as Sherman's book notes, says O'Reilly tried to intimidate her privately:
“If you cross Fox News Channel, it’s not just me, it’s Roger Ailes who will go after you,” he assured Mackris. “I’m the street guy out front making the loud noises about the issues, but Ailes operates behind the scenes, strategizes and makes things happen so that one day BAM! The person gets what’s coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he’s going to get a knock on his door and life as he’s known it will change forever,” O’Reilly said. “That day will happen, trust me.... Ailes knows very powerful people and this goes all the way to the top.”

“Top of what?” Mackris asked.

“Top of the country. Just look at who’s on the cover of his book,” O’Reilly replied, referring to Bush and Cheney. “They’re watching him and will be for years. He’s finished, and he’s going to be sorry he ever took Fox News Channel on.”
And once Mackris's lawsuit was filed, Ailes and then-VP of media relations Brian Lewis did much of the rough stuff on O'Reilly's behalf, according to Sherman's book:
From the outset, Ailes and Brian Lewis sought to be in control of the message. Ailes made sure O’Reilly got the directive: if he opened his big mouth, he could eventually lose his show. Except for a few fleeting comments, O’Reilly remained silent about the headlines. But O’Reilly had loud voices speaking for him. Fox’s PR department and his lawyer, Ronald Green, fed the pack of tabloid reporters a steady supply of nasty gossip about his accuser. To gather dirt, O’Reilly hired the celebrity private investigator Bo Dietl. Sources with damaging anecdotes were tracked down. “This could be a message to people,” Dietl said on MSNBC on the evening of October 15. “When you file these frivolous lawsuits ... we’re going to investigate you and we’re going to uncover things.”

Fox had a crucial ally in the war over O’Reilly: Murdoch’s New York Post. On October 15, the front-page headline blared “EXCLUSIVE: O’Reilly Accuser in Bar Blow Up.” The article, the first in a series of personal attacks on Mackris, quoted a pastry chef named Bethenny Frankel accusing Mackris of provoking a fight with her at the bar of the Peninsula Hotel after Frankel asked to borrow a chair from her table. “She literally verbally attacked and abused and harassed us ... like a raving lunatic,” Frankel told the tabloid. A few days later, one of O’Reilly’s private investigators convinced Matthew Paratore, the owner of a bar and restaurant on the Upper West Side that Mackris frequented, to talk to O’Reilly’s lawyers. On October 19, the Post ran a story headlined “BOOZY BOAST,” which quoted Paratore alleging that Mackris had recently dined with Al Franken and that a few months before returning to Fox, she bragged about writing a book to “take [O’Reilly] down.” O’Reilly’s lawyer also told the Post that Mackris once drunkenly started stripping off her clothes in front of Paratore. “If you think I’m going to fuck Bill O’Reilly, I’m going to fuck you even more,” Green quoted her as saying.

... Green went after Mackris viciously. He told the [New York Daily News] Mackris was “insolvent” and that when she was a White House intern in 1991, she gave herself the nickname “Andrea Mattress.” “It speaks volumes to what was going on then,” he said.
O'Reilly eventually settled, but that was only because he got cold feet, according to Sherman; Fox's Brian Lewis "told executives that Fox could have prevailed if he had been allowed to continue the PR campaign," Sherman writes.

And what did the Mackris scandal do to O'Reilly's reputation with his fans? Sherman again:
The success of Fox’s PR offensive was validated by the most important measure: ratings.... O’Reilly survived a sex scandal by retaining the support of his fans. Ratings for the Factor jumped 30 percent during the heat of the scandal.
And history seems to be repeating itself. TVNewser reports:
“The O’Reilly Factor” averaged 3.3 million viewers on Monday, [February 23,] its highest total viewers since November, 25, 2014 when the Ferguson verdict was announced.
It going to take a hell of a lot more than this to bring O'Reilly down.


UPDATE: Gawker asks, "Why Has Fox News Stopped Defending Bill O’Reilly?"
Over the past week, Fox News has aggressively rebutted accusations that its star host Bill O’Reilly lied about his whereabouts during the Falklands War in 1982. But after a new report challenged O’Reilly’s recent claim that he was present at the violent suicide of a Lee Harvey Oswald acquaintance in 1977, the network declined to defend him. Is Fox blinking?
Nahhh. Fox obviously regards this story as dangerous (like the Mackris story) rather than not dangerous (like the Falklands story). But the nasty reaction will be more or less the same. If the JFK story gets legs, expect ugly tactics in response that can't be traced to O'Reilly or Fox rather than those that can. But they'll come.


Ten Bears said...

The best way to deal with a bully is to bust it right in the mouth. Twice. My preference is a cap in its ass, but I'm not as squeamish as most.

Violence is no the last resort of the inept, it is merely the last resort. And you don't have to be a Peace Freak to be against War.

Steve M. said...

I don't advocate violence outside of something like a war or a bar fight, but a little smashmouth right back at Fox would be entirely appropriate, and long overdue.

Victor said...

Yeah, but who's going to do it?

No one else in the MSM - especially not after this.

After all, every MSM "reporter" and pundit looks at FOX as a possible soft-landing spot in case they screw-up.

Victor said...

I told this story about a decade ago, but it's worth retelling, imo:

In 1976, a few years after he graduated, I also went to Marist College.
It was a blue-collar school, where many of us were the first ones in our families to go to college.
I had a great time, and got a great college education, and was very employable, based on my BA in Communications, and my minor’s in Russian and English.

When O’RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALY became a national figure back in the late 90’s at FOX “news,” he made a big deal out of going to Marist.

I sent him an e-mail, early in the 00’s, and said, “Please stop telling people that you graduated from Marist – you make the other graduate’s look as stupid and ignorant as you!
I said that, based on his world view, I doubted he actually graduated!

His response was:

I wrote back, “See, now you’ve proved me right, because if you’d graduated, you’d know that that was anatomically impossible!”

His response?

I was at a reunion a few years ago, and he was signing copies of his latest co-written “biography” at the book store.
I saw no long line.
He left early, in his limo, I heard, pissed-off because the student’s at the college didn’t appreciate his co-written genius.

I asked a few of the older Professor’s – Marist Brother’s one and all – what they thought of him when he was a student.
All I got was eye-rolls and shrugs.
They detested the bastard, and were ashamed to have his name at all attached to the great college that they built.

Bill’s and old blow-hard who knows his time in the limelight is running out.
And, there’s nothing more dangerous that an old blowhard who know his/her time us about up.

I detest that bastard.
And I detest the fact that got a college degree from a great college, like Marist.

And no, I don't still have that e-mail.
It disappeared in a move.

Anonymous said...

But ... but ... no post on the news that Holder's 'apparat', the so-called Justice Dept., have decided to drop any further action in pursuit of the totally innocent Mr. Zimmerman!

Oh well, I expect there will be a nice big blog-post tomorrow when I wake up - night-night!

Roger said...

Ten Bears said...

Duff, go back to yo mama'd basement, put on your pajamas...

Glennis said...

Look at Al Franken, one day he’s going to get a knock on his door and life as he’s known it will change forever

Yeah, he became a senator. Suck on it, O'Reilly.

Glennis said...

Shorter Duff "Why isn't Steve writing about what I want him to write about?"

Vixen Strangely said...

O'Reilly's got a professional issue--the saying "Never argue with someone why buys ink by the barrel" makes an awful lot of sense if even simple things like where one was raised, or one's school athletic career, seem to be worth column inches. Bill O'Reilly himself has churned out the digital equivalent of reams on other people (George Tiller comes to mind)and can't not know what a war of verbal attrition looks like. But as Roger pointed out, just as O'Reilly reinvented his Argentinian reporting, his El Salvador reporting needs to be looked at--the nuns? Also, he went to some village were leftists made a mark and claimed it was leveled, (it wasn't) but downplayed El Mozote. If he went there, he saw bodies--quite unlike the protests in Buenos Aires he tried to make into a bloody riot, that's for sure.

It makes you wonder when his work was ever good?

Unknown said...


1) It's a dead issue at this point.

2) You're a moron.

Never Ben Better said...

C'mon, folks, don't bother with duff -- he's shovelling the coy eyelash-batting come-on so hard you could spread it around an entire Las Vegas chorus line working their latest marks and still have enough left over for a Shirley Temple remake. The act is sadly tatterdemalion at this point, so why reward it with any notice at all? I shan't again.

Steve M. said...

NBB speaks the truth. Remember, trolls thrive when they're fed.

Greg said...

The Forehead of Doom sure gets off on the idea of being gangsta with his enemies. Bet BillO admires Michael Corleone as someone who got things done, dammit.

gocart mozart said...

"O'Reilly eventually settled, but that was only because he got cold feet, according to Sherman;"
Or she has him on tape anally pleasuring himself with a vibrator as alleged in the complaint.

Fox's Brian Lewis "told executives that Fox could have prevailed if he had been allowed to continue the PR campaign,"

unless she has him on tape anally pleasuring himself with a vibrator as alleged in the complaint.

gocart mozart said...

Not sure if the tape is legal or admissible in court but it would be admissible on the internet. "Your career or 6 million dollars Bill, your choice."