The O'Reilly Harassment Machine keeps spinning. Last night on The Factor, O'Reilly called Think Progress "insects," said Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta was "driving the hate industry," and that blogger Amanda Terkel was "harming a rape victim and her family." Let's deconstruct these idiotic insults.
For starters, Think Progress clearly aren't powerless insects, but they have gotten under O'Reilly's skin. They have launched a campaign to compel O'Reilly's leading corporate sponsors (including AT&T, Johnson&Johnson, Capital One, UPS, Audi, Sharp, Hyundai, P&G, Chrysler, Mercedes Benz, Ford, and Bayer) to end his ambush journalism. And as I wrote yesterday, they've got a list chronicling 40 instances of this deplorable practice. This campaign has already been effective; a Ford spokesman agreed with the criticism of O'Reilly, whom he called "hopelessly pig-headed," and Capital One also expressed regret and claimed they don't endorse O'Reilly's views. This is fantastic pressure that hopefully will curb O'Reilly's "gotcha" journalism that he plays off as accurate investigative reporting.
Ironically, after calling Think Progress insects, O'Reilly got annoyed with Dick Morris for failing to make the connection between Think Progress, NBC, and GE -- perhaps because there is no connection! Terkel merely appeared on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann because O'Reilly hasn't allowed her to come on his show. Instead, O'Reilly just replays the ambush video of FOX producer Jesse Watters stalking Terkel on vacation, then uses it to support whatever crackpot conspiracy theory he can conjure.
What really makes O'Reilly the "Worst Person in the World," as Olbermann would say, is that he keeps using the Terkel ambush video to claim she was "harming a rape victim and her family." All Terkel did was point out O'Reilly's highly insensitive remarks about Jennifer Moore, whom he suggested brought rape and murder upon herself by wearing revealing clothing and drinking too much alcohol. Considering O'Reilly's misogynistic views and history of harassment, should he be allowed to address the Alexa Foundation for rape victims? No, of course not. And interestingly, Terkel highlighted O'Reilly's awful comments (first posted by the News Hounds) without blaming the Alexa Foundation for choosing O'Reilly as a fundraiser speaker.
That O'Reilly brought on Morris to back him up is a typical FOX trick of allowing their guests to do their dirty work (see the bigotry that spews forth from Jesse Lee Peterson when the equally hateful Sean Hannity brings him on TV). This time it backfired, however, because what Morris said of O'Reilly's remarks regarding Moore was: "You talk on the air for hours every day, you make one misstep out of hundreds of days, and they're all over you." Clearly Morris can see O'Reilly was in the wrong, but if you think that means we'll be seeing an apology from O'Reilly anytime soon for the real harm he's done and continues to do to rape victims and their families everywhere, think again.
Fortunately, we can go over O'Reilly's head and take this to the people who matter most to FOX -- their corporate advertisers.
Follow ZP Heller on Twitter: www.twitter.com/zpheller