You have to love Bill O'Reilly. Amanda Carpenter tells him that we posted a video compilation of Jesse Watters ambushing tactics and he says we're all just a tad bit afraid of the big-bad-Jesse Watters. And Amanda knows me, because we debated each other on MSNBC, so she shouldn't try to hide that fact from Bill.
O’Reilly: Now. The far-left websites fear greatly the vicious guy Jesse Watters. Jesse Watters is now the subject of far-left angst because he goes out and talks to the bad guys. Tell us about that.
Carpenter: Well, basically, there’s been a site, Crooks and Liars, that compiled a bunch of videos of Jesse Watters ambushing a number of people for your segments, and they call this harassment, they say it is absolutely harassment – you know, they’re very frightened at the prospect of a Fox News producer coming after them with a camera and asking them to explain what they write on the Internet or in various newspaper columns.
O’Reilly: It's interesting...They didn’t say anything – we’ve been doing this, I guess, for six or seven years, until the far-left websites got involved. Then they got really nervous. This is, of course, a legitimate brand of journalism, it’s been practiced ever since television news was invented in the ‘60s. When the bad guys won’t comment,* when they run and hide, we will find them.
… You know, it’s funny, one of the people that he talked to [showing Amanda Terkel] – ‘Oh, he yelled at me, and he ran –‘ And then you see the tape. And there’s Jesse being as polite as possible. They’re having a conversation anybody could have. But you know, we don’t expect honesty from these people. Their whole game is deceit. That’s what their game is.
By the way, C&L has been covering O'Reilly's ambush producers for years now so the fact that they went after a blogger somehow has us nervous is a lie.
Amanda accurately stated that we posted videos of Watters "ambushing" people -- I'd also call it "sandbagging," but at least she didn't say Watters was just "talking to" or "interviewing" them. And Bill, I'm so nervous of the towering presence of Jesse Watters, I mean, doesn't he remind you of Lawrence Taylor sacking the Joe Theismanns of the NFL? Carpenter knows we're not afraid of his goons too. Yes Bill, I'm so very afraid that The Factor can send Jesse down to my house with his camera in hand any old time he wants -- email me and I'll give you my address and he can practice a little ambushing on moi. Just send a note to crooksandliars-at-gmail.com.
See Bill -- and I know I have to carefully explain this to you, so I'll write this very slo-o-o-o-wly -- Jesse can bring his camera crew anywhere he wants and ask tough questions too, but what's despicable about his tactics is that he shows up on their private property unannounced or (worse yet) on the private weekend getaways, after stalking them. That's uncool and out of line and that's what's objectionable. If Jesse had called Amanda Terkel and asked for an interview and she met him, then there would have been no problem. But you all decided to "get" her. You claim you reserve this treatment for when "the bad guys won't comment," but you never even gave Amanda Terkel that opportunity.
Since Bill O. classifies us as the "bad guys", I'd like to know how many right wing or Republican "bad guys" Jesse Watters has ambushed in all the years he's been doing it. Did he go after any conservative columnists either? I'd also like to know what year he actually started ambushing people for The Factor.
What it boils down to is a matter of ethics: O'Reilly is violating the basic standards of behavior of journalistic professionals. Take a look at the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics:
Under the section titled "Minimize Harm":
— Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
O'Reilly's ambushes of private citizens clearly violates both of these tenets. As Dave N. put it:
O'Reilly's ambush crews claim to be "investigative journalists" acting in the crusading tradition of the old '60 Minutes' crews of the '70s and '80s. And indeed those journalists did excellent and serious work tracking down various official miscreants.
But they did it at their offices or their places of work. They didn't
invade their homes.
Moreover, there is a big difference between people who anger you, or people with whom you disagree, and public officials or powerful people who have abused their positions. I think we all can understand why it's ethical for journalists to pursue the latter, especially when they’re trying to evade accountability, and why everyone who has a shred of ethical decency as a journalist pauses long and hard while considering “going after” the former.
The power of the press is very easily abused, especially against ordinary private citizens who aren't celebrities, and whose privacy is every bit as sacred as Bill O'Reilly's.