As a former victim of rape and sexual abuse, I am appalled by the tactics Fox News allowed Bill O’reilly to use for last night’s segment of Reality Check, on the O’Reilly Factor. In a frivolous attempt to stick his foot in his mouth once again, Bill O’reilly managed only to capitalize on his puerile antics.
Two months ago Mr. O’reilly was asked to be a guest speaker at a fund raiser for the It Happened to Alexa Foundation, a program created by Tom and Stacey Branchini, the parents of Alexa Branchini, who was raped in 1999 in her dormitory at Boston University. When news broke of the invitation, a non-profit, liberal advocacy group called Media Matters for America protested against the foundation honoring a man with a reputation for crucifying the victims of sexual crimes. A web page dedicated to the protest swung into action with an online petition and an audio clip of O’reilly’s derogatory statements in connection to the rape/murder of Jennifer Moore in 2006.
The original clip begins by comparing Mel Gibson’s alcohol fueled anti-Semitic remarks (the “Mel Gibson component”) to Jennifer Moore’s own intoxication, and the often ill-fated decisions made where alcohol is involved, but it doesn’t change the fact that he said this:
“Their car is towed because they’re moronic girls, so they’re standing there in the middle of the night with no car and then they separate because they’re drunk, which you never do. Ok, so, Jennifer Moore, 18 years old, on her way to college, she was 5’2, 105 lbs, wearing a mini skirt and a halter top with a bare midriff, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick up on that at two in the morning.“
Any half-assed intelligent person can read between those lines. It wasn’t just that incident however. In 2007, a boy named Shawn Hornbeck was found living with a 41 year old man named Michael Devlin, who had been his kidnapper five years earlier, and had sexually abused the boy on a daily basis throughout those years. Shortly after he was rescued, it came to light that at some point during the latter years of his stay with Devlin he was aloud to do things such as, surf the internet and ride a bike, which lead some to believe he could have escaped. Clinical psychologists gave stockholm syndrome as the answer, which is highly likely since he was kidnapped at age 11. It’s also possible that Devlin was in grabbing range at all times, threatening the boy with consequences if he tried to escape. When O’reilly learned about the possibility of escape, he said this:
“He didn’t have to go to school, he could run around and do whatever he wanted, there was an element here that this kid liked about this circumstance.”
What could easily be construed as more offensive than his comment is what he said in his own defense; O’reilly used the fact that Shawn had piercings as an excuse for his possible behavior- Maybe O’reilly needs to be put in a room with a sexual predator, tied up and sexually abused daily for years, or even just months, then he can come back to the comfort of his studio at Fox News and tell us how he enjoyed it.
So, during last night’s segment of Reality Check, he spent the entire ten minutes name calling and accusing those who have exposed his wrong doings. It was an embarrassing display of nescience on his part. At one point he highly misrepresented the term “hate group”, saying:
“A bunch of far left loons picked up some propaganda from the hate group Media Matters”.
O’reilly then went on to say that the accusations by Media Matters were a “preposterous lie”, which is absurd because the proof of his distaste can be found on an audio clip on his own blog site. As far as the other comments, (Shawn Hornbeck) google O’reilly and Hornbeck and you will find thousands of results.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the segment was when he had a producer ambush a young journalist/blogger, Amanda Terkel, of Think Progress, a progressive political blog dedicated to exposing lies on the right wing side. In the segment the producer vehemently bullied Ms. Terkel, accusing her of being “dishonest”, and “causing pain to the victim and her family.” The dialogue went something like this:
Producer: “What did he say?”
AT: ” I don’t remember exactly what he said because it was so long ago, but I remember he spoke about the rape victim in a derogatory manner, implying it was her fault she was raped”
Producer: “Did you hear the clip?”
AT: “Yes, there is audio online.”
Producer: “What was the Mel Gibson component of Bill’s analysis?”
AT: ” I don’t know, I didn’t highlight that, I was highlighting what he said about the rape victim.”
Producer: (rudely cutting her off) “Because you didn’t hear it did you? because you’re dishonest.”
AT: (trying to explain and defend her self, she repeated) “I didn’t hear it because I wasn’t highlighting that.”
Producer: ( rudely cutting her off again) “You didn’t hear the whole thing, you don’t know the context, and you owe everybody an apology because you brought alot of pain and suffering to this rape victim, this foundation, and her family.”
At the end of the clip O’reilly labels Ms. Terkel the villain, which is ironic considering the hypocrisy behind the tactic. (O’reilly has openly discussed the way in which the paparazzi ambushes celebrities, and his disgust by it.)
As I mentioned before, the “Mel Gibson component” was nothing more than a weak comparison between Mr. Gibson, and Ms. Moore, in which the bigger picture was the alcohol itself. It doesn’t make what he said any less repulsive, or give an excuse for his calling the girls moronic, nor does it excuse him for suggesting she asked for the rape by dressing like millions of girls do everyday. (including celebutantes)
O’reilly, you should be ashamed of yourself. How dare you use rape, rape victims, and a foundation to try and wash away the filth that has come out of your mouth. In the future, it would be in your best interest to leave psychological matters out of your political screw ups.