Monday, March 30, 2009

Bill O'Reilly and Barbara Walters:
A very limited View

cross-posted from The Huffington Post

One would think that with four women co-hosts, Bill O'Reilly would have been put to the test in today's appearance on "The View" (ABC), given his producer's stalking of blogger Amanda Terkel and the uproar that has followed. But not one question was asked about the Terkel stalking, or subsequent efforts by Terkel's supporters to hold O'Reilly's advertising sponsors to account for their support of this outrageous bully.

Which leads one to wonder: Are the producers of The View so unaware of what is happening in media that they somehow missed the uproar (which was featured prominently on The Huffington Post, and to which O'Reilly rival Keith Olbermann devoted two segments)? Or was there a pre-interview agreement between O'Reilly and "The View" that he would not be called to account for these actions?

Quick review: two weekends ago Amanda Terkel went away for a weekend to an off-the-beaten-track town in Virginia, only to be ambushed by two male employees of O'Reilly, who stuck a camera in her face and accused her of hurting a rape victim, Alexa Branchini, and her family, and called her "dishonest." (Terkel's crime was to highlight on her blog comments O'Reilly had made about a different rape victim, Jennifer Moore, in which O'Reilly virtually blamed the young woman for her own rape.) Terkel's blog post was prompted by the decision by Branchini's foundation, which advocates for rape victims, to invite O'Reilly to speak at the organization's fundraising event. (For a more complete accounting, click the links in this post.)

But the clincher was the fact that O'Reilly never invited Amanda Terkel to defend her comments in-studio; instead he sent two men to trail her on the highway for two hours and then accost her.

I find it deeply troubling that among the hosts of The View, none asked O'Reilly about this. Except for one, these are women known as fairly progressive -- women who've no doubt encountered discriminatory and bullying behavior by men during the course of their own careers. In letting O'Reilly slide by as they did, they enabled this known misogynist, allowing him to appear before a female audience as a nice-enough guy -- not one who would ever send a couple of guys out to stalk your daughter while she's on vacation.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's Bill O'Reilly afraid of?

I have confirmed with blogger Amanda Terkel (see last post) that no one at "The O'Reilly Factor" ever tried to book her for a proper, in-studio interview prior to sending out Bill-O's stalker squad to trail her on a two-hour drive for the purpose of ambushing her on a weekend with a video camera. This leads one to ask, just what is Bill O'Reilly afraid of? He clearly didn't want to have a conversation with Terkel; he just wanted a videotaped reaction from her while she was being confronted by her stalker with false accusations.

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Bill O'Reilly's Woman Problem

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.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Anti-gay robo-call

Robocall - Tim Wildmon

Your blogstress's friends at the American Family Association have been buying airtime from whomever will sell them a bit of that public trust to spread their customary message of hatred of queer folk. Here's a robocall that went out yesterday, presumably to any and all who ever contributed a dime to AFA. Note that the call comes from AFA founder Don Wildmon's son, Tim. (Ever notice how some of these hate-mongering groups become a sort of full-employment plan for the founder's family?)

AFA's special, "Speechless: Silencing the Christians", may soon be coming to a cable channel -- or even broadcast channel -- near you, delivered as "paid programming". If you see it scheduled in your 'hood, you may wish to mobilize against the media outlet that sold the air time to AFA.

Here's the text of Brother Tim's message:

Hello, this is Tim Wildmon on behalf of your American Family Association, calling to sincerely thank you for your faithful support. With the help of friends like you, we've produced a new, one-hour documentary called "Speechless: Silencing the Christians". It details how the radical homosexual lobby has silenced Christians while labeling us a bigots in order to push their agenda across America. It will air on cable as well as network affiliates nationwide, so be watching for it. Your support makes this television program possible, so on behalf of your AFA, thank you again, and God bless.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Women to lead health care reform

Today's announcement of President Obama's nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to lead the Department of Health and Human Services; and Nancy-Ann DeParle, former director of the Health Care Finance Administration, as the White House point person on health care reform.

For several months now, right-wing groups have been using a potential Sebelius nomination as fundraising fodder. The pro-choice Catholic governor is particularly reviled by the right for her role in helping to defeat former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who subpoenaed the medical records of some 90 women who had gotten abortions at the clinic of Dr. George Tiller, whom Kline dogged with allegations of performing illegal abortions. Firedoglake has that story. Here's a snip:

Kline was challenged for the Attorney General spot in 2006 by Paul Morrison. Sebelius helped recruit Morrison from the GOP to run against Kline, and Morrison received financial support from Tiller's PAC, which according to Novak and the forced birthers is sign of a -- you guessed it, grand conspiracy. The fact that even the Kansas GOP wants little to do with Kline doesn't really enter into the narrative -- after his defeat by Morrison he went on to replace Morrison as district attorney in Johnson County, taking the Planned Parenthood patient records with him. But he was defeated by another Republican, Steve Howe, who got 60% of the vote in a primary in January 2008.

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