January 25, 2013

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly returned last night to the assault case in Norfolk that he’d raised as a worthy national issue last spring. On April 14, a young white couple — David Forster and Marjon Rostami, both reporters at the Virginian-Pilot newspaper — was assaulted by a group of African American teenagers. In covering the incident last year, the Fox host boasted that his show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” was the only national media outlet blanketing the story. Contrast that with how the media piled on the story of Trayvon Martin: “Yes, Trayvon was killed, and these two reporters are alive. But it is inconceivable that, had a white mob set upon two black Americans, the media would sit it out. But that’s what’s happening in the Virginia case.”

Last night, “The Factor” played the 911 tape of the incident, which was harrowing and included a witness saying, “There were a lot of guys, people, black kids, kickin’ on a, on a guy.” “The Factor” had to fight authorities to get the tape.

O’Reilly’s beefs:

  1. That the Virginian-Pilot didn’t aggressively report on the matter. Denis Finley, the paper’s editor, told “The Factor” in an ambush interview last year that it wasn’t a mob attack, to which O’Reilly last night declared, “Bull.”
  2. That the case was a “travesty of justice,” as three of the four arrestees had their charges dropped and the fourth, who was convicted, received probation and a $352 restitution requirement.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.