Reliable Is as Reliable Does

This started out to be a post about the week’s cable news ratings, but that story can be told in two words: Bill O’Reilly. The King of Cable News lived up to that nickname and then some, peaking at over 700,000 viewers in the news demo on Wednesday night. These are “monster numbers,” says Cable Gamer Brian Flood, and it can’t be a coincidence that they come just as attacks from Media Matters hit a fever pitch.

O’Reilly has said his piece on the allegations, but that’s not stopping CNN in their dogged pursuit of ratings the truth. They’ve reported on claims from a JFK conspiracist, and in an unusual show of generosity to a cable competitor posted a two-and-a-half minute Comedy Central skewering of O’Reilly by comedian Jon Stewart. Both of these clips can be found under the aegis of CNNMoney, as can another O’Reilly piece filed by Brian Stelter. Apparently CNNMoney is part of Stelter’s beat, in addition to being a media reporter, critic, cameraman, and breaking news anchor. All this and Reliable Sources too. Quite the Renaissance man.

So, will Brian Stelter’s focus on O’Reilly continue on Sunday’s Reliable? The guest list certainly suggests that it will. Why else would Amanda Terkel be invited on? She is the ex-Think Progress partisan who almost launched a separate career with one out-of-context Radio Factor quote. In case you’re not familiar with this scandal de jour from those thrilling days of yesteryear, it was a classic bit of agit-prop, a “blaming the victim” fallacy. O’Reilly had cautioned women about stumbling around drunk in the middle of the night in skimpy clothes–not unlike warning people to “lock your doors,” or “don’t leave the keys in the car.” How many mothers would give their daughters the selfsame advice? But O’Reilly, one of the great victim advocates of our time, was widely condemned as anti-victim for suggesting that a woman’s appearance and circumstance could have any relevance at all.

Terkel managed to take all sorts of umbrage at Jesse Watters for catching up with her in public and asking questions. (She apparently never watched 60 Minutes during the Mike Wallace years.) Somehow that encounter turned into “harassment” because she felt “threatened.” Here are her words:

O’Reilly never asked me for a statement nor invited me on his show before sending Watters to harass me. Since I’’m a 5 ft, 100 pound woman with an opinion that he doesn’’t like, perhaps O’’Reilly believes I deserve to be treated this way.

All of a sudden her appearance became relevant. And the rest is history. Terkel joined in with Keith Olbermann who tried to sabotage a fundraiser for rape victims because O’Reilly was speaking there. Oddly few accused either of them of being anti-victim. And now it appears we can relive all the fun and excitement of that controversy–Amanda Terkel’s side, anyway–on Reliable Sources.

Also on will be Al Franken, supposedly to discuss “net neutrality.” And yet, in a remarkable coincidence, he also has a history with Bill O’Reilly, having claimed that Bill didn’t grow up in Levittown. And look, here’s Brian Stelter back in his TV Newser days with a post that seems to give credence to Franken’s charge. Like the hits, those coincidences keep coming.

Pre-show reading to prepare you for Sunday’s reports:

  • Transcript of Bill O’Reilly and Wendy Murphy discussing the “threats” to Amanda Terkel, the fundraiser she tried to subvert, and Bill’s advocacy for crime victims.
  • Video of the “harrassment” Ms. Terkel suffered at the hands of Mr. Intimidation himself, Jesse Watters.
  • Post from RootsWeb debunking Al Franken’s Levittown “expert.”
  • The deed to Bill O’Reilly’s childhood home in Levittown.

One comment

  1. joeremi

    So the story is that some people have questioned Bill O’Reilly’s Zelig-like ability to show up at events he was not present for, not O’Reilly himself. He claimed he saw nuns shot in the back of the head, then later pretended he said he saw pictures. He claimed he saw terrorist bomb people in Northern Ireland, then pretended he said he saw pictures. He claimed he was outside a man’s house when he killed himself, when audiotape proves he learned about it on the phone from another state. So who’s the problem here: The questioners, or the serial liar?


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