Bill O'Reilly Has a Posse

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One of the weirder features of the O'Reilly Factor is how the host directs his producers to seek out, in person, the people who dare to piss him off. This isn't an unusual trick for local news, the mileau that produced O'Reilly. But local news producers and reporters reserve their ambush time for criminals or creepy people. (Great example here.) O'Reilly goes after judges who've made wrong decisions and members of the media who make fun of him. Michael Roberts in the Denver Westwood tackles that side of the show with a focus on one lonesome newspaper columnist.

On April 7, [Joanne Ostrow] wrote an online piece chiding O'Reilly for spewing "racist bile" in an epic blowup with fellow Fox personality Geraldo Rivera. (O'Reilly and Rivera had harangued each other over a March 30 Virginia Beach crash in which two young women were reportedly killed by Alfredo Ramos, a drunk driver with a previous record and no green card. The former viewed the tragedy as an indictment of U.S. immigration policy; the latter argued against using the deaths to make a "cheap political point.") Two days later, O'Reilly put Ostrow in the "Ridiculous" spotlight, branding her "flat-out dishonest, and a far-left ideologue." In the meantime, O'Reilly producer Porter Berry phoned to ask if Ostrow would debate her statements on the Factor; she declined, saying her prose spoke for itself. Then, on April 10, Berry, a cameraman and a sound technician ambushed Ostrow in the parking lot of a Wild Oats market. (Berry flew in for the task.)

On April 11, O'Reilly aired this forced conversation on his nationally syndicated radio staple and the television Factor. Although KOA's Mike Rosen and KHOW's Peter Boyles scoffed at the notion that Ostrow had been stalked, her experiences imply otherwise. Since she went directly from her home to Wild Oats, Ostrow believes Berry staked out her residence and tailed her to the business.

It doesn't make much sense. O'Reilly frequently gloats about his dominance of the media—when the subject of NBC News or Keith Olbermann comes up, he flaunts his ratings like a chestful of medals earned storming Osama bin Laden's cave. And that just makes his peevishness, aided by all of Fox's resources, truly disturbing.

Cathy Young took whacks at O'Reilly in 2002 and 2007. To her eternal shame, she never got stalked by a TV producer with a boom mike.

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  1. The obvious answer here would be for some intrepid news organization to stalk O’Reilly and his producers with ambush questions in public places, but to do so CONTINUOUSLY and INDEFINITELY, until they go insane.

  2. I live in Virginia Beach, and the most disturbing thing to me was when O’Reilly held our mayor personally responsible for that car accident (the car accident he and Geraldo were arguing about), stalked her to her home for an ambush interview in her driveway, then went on to state she “should be baking pies, not running a major city.” What a nitwit.

  3. Actually, O’Reilly’s point was that if the drunk driver had been deported after one of his several previous arrests the accident would not have happened. IIRC, it was the policy of Virginia Beach, promoted by that mayor, to not report illegals when they are arrested.

    I don’t watch that guy much, but I did catch some of this deal.

  4. SHUT UP! I’M TURNING OFF YOUR MICROPHONES!

  5. The true nitwits are those Americans who keep him at the top of the ratings. O’Reilly is a repellent bully, but he is nothing without the blind, goose-stepping support of his fan base.

  6. This kind of self-righteous stalking with an agenda while proclaiming fairness & balance has become a pattern at Fox News…The good part is, nobody believes them when they claim not to have an agenda.
    JMR

  7. Let’s not wait as long as we did with Imus to run O’Reilly out of town.

  8. “This kind of self-righteous stalking with an agenda while proclaiming fairness & balance has become a pattern at Fox News”

    And NBC and CBS and CNN, for a very long time now. So what’s new? Why get a jacked up about O’Reilly, and not the Dateline or Sixty Minutes people?

  9. Every once in a while O’Reilly will take a position that is actually reasonable (in other words – a position I agree with). When that happens, I start rethinking my logic from the ground up.

  10. Watching O’Reilly is something I take perverse pleasure in. I hate it almost all of the time but I keep watching. And then I call my father and say “See, he really is an idiot, stop watching that channel and buying his books”.

  11. “until they go insane”

    Too late.

  12. What is it with Reason and posses lately? This is the second mention of a “posse” in the last week.

    Does this have something to do with the joke that ends in the punchline, “I said bring back the posse! The posse!”

  13. To her eternal shame, she never got stalked by a TV producer with a boom mike.

    That you know about…

    Seriously, if O’Reilly is directing his underlings to stalk people in other states, isn’t that grounds for RICO charges against Fox News?

  14. Federal Dog,

    Is 60min still doing ambush interviews? I haven’t watched in many years (Do they still end the show with Andy Rooney’s unfunny musings on paper clips?). Even at their sleaziest I don’t think they ever ambushed a columnist who wrote bad things about them. That is just so petty. What sort of fragile-ego-maniac would stoop to that?

  15. i sometimes watch O’Reilly and find some things offensive and others pretty libertarian.
    He at least brings on those with differing ideas, and not always disrepectfully. Yesterday, he had on Richard Dawkins, discussing “The God Delusion” and they agreed to disagree but I didn’t see O’Reilly foaming at the mouth or anything. Maybe a few viewers will now go out and read Dawkin’s book because O’Reilly didn’t tear him a new one.

  16. What a fucking bully.

  17. Federal Dog is right. If 60 minutes were stalking Alberto Gonzalez outside of his out about GUITMO, Reason wouldn’t give a shit. O’Reilly love him or hate him is any better or worse than any major media outlet. Reason just doesn’t agree with him about immigration so they choose to bitch about things that otherwise don’t seem to bother him.

  18. Not a whole lot of criticism of the “ambush interview” when the sloppy fat guy does it.

  19. ProL:

    (as is tradition today – will send a congratulations again!)

    with all of this talk about the POSSE, it’s time to break out the lasso, chaps, ooh! spurs, riding crop. (and we can talk with the invisible swordsman)

    … working up to one helluva weekend in Vegas (to paraphrase Major TJ “King” Kong)

  20. If 60 minutes were stalking Alberto Gonzalez outside of his out about GUITMO, Reason wouldn’t give a shit.

    I’m not so sure about that. Though it would be funny if a news outlet waterboarded the truth out of him about the attorney firings.

  21. The ambush interview is a perfectly legitimate journalistic tool.

    That’s why I advocated its continual and unrelenting use against O’Reilly and his producers.

    The reason O’Reilly’s use of it has ruffled feathers is because he’s used it against other journalists, thus breaking the unspoken rule that journalists were off limits for the very tools journalists use. But that’s OK, because it opens the door to use it on O’Reilly.

  22. VM,

    After all, it’s the Summer of Pro Libertate!

  23. John,

    Really, John? Really? An egomaniac pundit sending a team to harass a columnist that turned down an appearance on his show is EXACTLY the same as a news outlet trying to get an interview with the United States Attorney General about torture? Really?

    Wow.

  24. John,
    Are you kidding? I can’t detect it if you are. Except that I can’t believe you really think ambushing Alberto Gonzalez over GUITMO is equivalent to ambushing Joanne Ostrow over writing disparaging things.

  25. The true nitwits are those Americans who keep him at the top of the ratings. O’Reilly is a repellent bully, but he is nothing without the blind, goose-stepping support of his fan base.

    So, if their taste differs from yours they are mentally defective?

    Fluffy,

    My earlier comment had little to do with the topic at hand, but I find the ambush interviews to be unprofessional. As unprofessional as interviewing people who are not doing anything “wrong” under a false pretext.

    The Dateline deal snagging wanna-be pedophiles is perfectly fine by me. If they were doing it to adults trying to meet adults, without their knowledge, I would find that wrong.

  26. cab:Every once in a while O’Reilly will take a position that is actually reasonable

    Hell, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  27. Would Barry Bonds on O’Reilly be a hit or not?

  28. Only if he had Hank Aaron on at the same time. With a bat.

  29. I can take him or leave him, but O’Reilly exposes bad judges and dishonest politicians. He also goes after news outlets that give these cretins cover.

    You got a problem with that? Tough. You just wish that Reason was half has popular as the O’Rielly show.

  30. Only if he had Hank Aaron on at the same time. With a bat.

    Aaron has said that he is rooting for Bonds to break his record. Of course, if Hank took the Hammer to Papa Bear, that would be fine with me.

    So, if their taste differs from yours they are mentally defective?

    Speaking for myself, yes, anyone whose taste differs from mine is mentally defective.

  31. the mileau that produced O’Reilly

    I think you mean milieu, Mr. Weigel.

  32. Brian24,

    Oh, sure. Aaron’s a good guy and would say nothing different. Still, I’d pay good money to see Hank hit #756.

  33. You got a problem with that? Tough. You just wish that Reason was half has popular as the O’Rielly show.

    No, I just wish O’Reilly were half as popular as Reason. Just another thing that’s wrong with the world.

  34. The one time I’ve had extensive knowledge of the facts in a case where O’Reilly went after a “bad judge”, O’Reilly was dead wrong and foolishly, absurdly so.

    It’s probably not perfectly correct to extrapolate from that to conclude that he’s ALWAYS that wrong, but I’m going to do so anyway.

    Also, does anyone really take him seriously after his War on Christmas obsession?

  35. Awright, JohnD is a joke, right? A whadyacallit? Sock puppet?

  36. And #757. Might as well take a swing at O’Reilly while he’s at it.

  37. I haven’t watched Bill O’Reilly since his days at Inside Edition. What’s he been up to?

  38. “Actually, O’Reilly’s point was that if the drunk driver had been deported after one of his several previous arrests the accident would not have happened.”

    I’ve never been to Mexico. Is it devoid of automobiles, alochol, or both?

    Anyway, ambush interviews are fine. Ambusing a newspaper columnist for saying mean things about your teevee show? Now that’s where journalist excellence meets moral courage, right there.

  39. I’ve never been to Mexico. Is it devoid of automobiles, alochol, or both?

    From my experiences in Mexico, I’d say that you can’t drive drunk there, else you will run into cattle in the middle of the highway. I was on a bus in Cabo that almost left the road avoiding some oxen.

  40. You know what would be a neat trick? Get stalked by O’Reilly on the same day that Olbermann names you Worst Person In The World. Anybody want to try that? Nick? Cathy? Jacob? David?

  41. I think you mean milieu, Mr. Weigel.

    And ‘Westword,’ not ‘Westwood.’

    O’Reilly is a repellent bully, but he is nothing without the blind, goose-stepping support of his fan base.

    Sieg Heil! I’ve never watched his show, but whatever…

    From my experiences in Mexico, I’d say that you can’t drive drunk there, else you will run into cattle in the middle of the highway.

    Drunk driving is SOP in Mexico. My more decandent friend from Mexico uses his Mexican driver’s license here (and his US license there) and got it taken away after an accident (he was drunk, as usual*, but they didn’t know it – they took the license for ‘no proof of insurance’) and he got it back in the mail a week later: “We can’t confiscate a foreign license.”
    *taxpayers are now covering the treatments for his rotting liver.

  42. Mr. F. Le Mur:

    Let’s say we have a society that lives mostly in a suburban setting, and zoning laws that keep entertainment and and drinking establishments separated from residential areas. The bars seem to be doing fine. Are you suggesting that drinking and driving is not SOP in the US? Somehow I don’t think cabs are taking everybody home.

  43. John D- As a general rule, the people who do ambush interviews are not journalists. They’re purveyors of infotainment.

    You know, like Bill himself.

    Another general rule: if it’s on television, it’s probably not journalism at all.*

    *There are exceptions, but damn few of them.

  44. (Great example here.)

    That video clip of the guy badgering the “library masturbator” was fucking hilarious.

    It takes real journalistic talent to interview a guy who masturbates in the library and yet the journalist comes off (no pun intended, really) looking like the jackass

  45. Another general rule: if it’s on television, it’s probably not journalism at all.*

    Are you saying that John Stossel might not be a first rate journalist?

  46. Lamar,

    My wife and I were driving home a few nights ago and saw a woman driving home with her head leaning against the glass and the car weaving all over the place. She was scary drunk (or having a stroke). We were debating the utility of calling the cops on her. Oh, and this was in Florida, not Mexico 🙂

  47. “My wife and I were driving home a few nights ago and saw a woman driving home with her head leaning against the glass and the car weaving all over the place. She was scary drunk (or having a stroke). We were debating the utility of calling the cops on her.”

    There is a time and place for debate, but this was not it.

  48. Federal Dog,

    I agree, in hindsight. We were basically in a neighborhood, though, and figured that she’d be home before the cops could respond. Probably we should’ve done it, anyway.

  49. Another general rule: if it’s on television, it’s probably not journalism at all.

    Yup. I firmly believe that you lose one IQ point for every hour that you spend watching any of the news networks. The only thing Fox has going for it is that they managed to hire a few better-looking female anchors than CNN or MSNBC. But if that’s what I’m looking for, I’ll just go watch telenovelas.

  50. Thoreau-Yup. That’s what I’m saying. And it’s too bad; if Stossel did some real, Balko type work, he could do some good.

  51. I have a term for O’Reilly (and his ilk): Pomp-ass

  52. I happen to like O’Reilly, and I agree with him a large percentage of the time, but then again I am much older then most of you on this forum. As you get older you just start seeing things in a more mature way. But given a choice I would rather listen to Micheal Savage. I have my asbestos suit on, so flame on.

  53. Tonight O’Reilly is having a fit over Rosie, for one of the least stupid things that she has said. It was not even stupid, it was kinda funny.

    At some banquit Rosie said something like she has been dieting for 2 weeks ever since Donald Trump said she was fat and unattractive. She went on to say that she really wanted to (sorry, paraphrasing there) give an old bald guy a boner.

    OH THE HUMANITY!

  54. The name of the newspaper is “WestwoRd”, not “WestwoOd”. And “Denver” isn’t part of the paper’s name either. :-p

  55. I happen to like O’Reilly, and I agree with him a large percentage of the time, but then again I am much older then most of you on this forum. As you get older you just start seeing things in a more mature way.

    Slightly subtle ad hominem.

    Are you of age for AARP?

    I’ve been tossing their letters for some years.
    I haven’t really watched much O’Reilly, but what I’ve seen makes me think things like: reactionary, angry, impolite, controlling, etc.

  56. Rosie isn’t going to be satisfied until Bill O’Reilly himself has a boner.

  57. I happen to like O’Reilly, and I agree with him a large percentage of the time, but then again I am much older then most of you on this forum.

    Dementia sets in at different ages for different people I suppose.

  58. Oh, that’s Posse, nevermind.

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