April 6, 2011
I watched with much bemusement this evening as Bill O’Reilly defended the sleazy and seamy tactics employed by conservative activist James O’Keefe to catch NPR executive Ron Schiller with his pants down during a lunch with men he thought were representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. O’Keefe had sent two operatives posing as members of the Islamic group to ostensibly discuss a donation to the news organization, but in reality, to ambush Schiller as he branded members of the Tea Party movement as racist, discussed pro-Israeli bias in the media, and opined that NPR would be better off without federal funding. With hidden cameras rolling during this meeting with the mendacious Muslim posers, these statements would cost Schiller and CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation) their jobs.
Now certainly these two hypocritical Schillers had it coming—their elitist and arrogant belief that everyone is beneath their enlightened consciousness and their laughable assertion that NPR doesn’t lean left made them ripe for a comeuppance, but exactly how low are “journalists” allowed to stoop to get a scoop? Should it not be a fundamental tenet of journalism, not to mention common decency, that people identify themselves honestly and not engage in deceptions?
O’Reilly doesn’t seem to think so. He blustered and pontificated that the ends justify the means and that the truth was paramount, and so lauded O’Keefe and his tactics. But it was only six years ago that O’Reilly himself was stung by a secret recording of a phone sex exchange he had with Fox News producer Andrea Mackris, who accused him of sexual harassment. The Fox News bloviator (to speak in his language), the married father of two children, who uses his bully pulpit to promote morality and Christian values, was caught on tape discussing crude sexual acts with Mackris, and in a classic malapropism from the Harvard grad (who never lets you forget it) discussed having Mackris rub his body with “that falafel thing.”
Apparently O’Reilly wasn’t so keen on clandestine recordings then as he went to great expense to smear Mackris and sue her for extortion. “This matter has caused enormous pain, but I had to protect my family, and I did,” O’Reilly explained after finally settling out of court by paying Mackris a sum reported in the millions. In O’Reilly’s world, true justice is conferred on those with the biggest checkbook.