Ambushing the Ambushers

Friday, June 26, 2009

Transcript

In the past few years, "The O'Reilly Factor" has adopted an old tradition from "60 Minutes"-era TV journalism: the ambush interview. We talk to John Cook, investigations editor for Gawker, who says that Bill O'Reilly uses the ambush to settle personal scores. Plus, OTM producer PJ Vogt describes shadowing Cook as he tried to ambush an ambusher.

Comments [12]

Jack from Chicago

bbnyc,
I can't imagine a producer with an ounce of self-respect doing what this one did. Moreover, he got more animated as Bob's giddiness climaxed, clearly a sycophant with low self-esteem. In other words, a lackey.
Bob's dayjob is aparently at Advertising Age where, I'd wager, he reaches even fewer people than he does at NPR.
Finally, the only context OTM puts things in is the one that aligns with their biases. It's a criticism show, it doesn't have to be honest with the facts.

Jul. 15 2009 11:18 PM
David C Rowe from United States

I have to say that, flawed as it is, I appreciate the O'Reilly confrontational approach, where the person ambushed can respond both in that moment with mic-stuck-in-face, , and (let's face it) now blog a response and post their own videos ad nauseum. I appreciate it, though, only compared to Keith Olbermann who calls people "the worst person in the world," often night after night, with no chance for them to respond even to a question! They just ARE because he says so. I'd like to see a story on this as a journalistic method.

Jul. 03 2009 02:07 PM
bbnyc from New York, NY

VERY DISAPPOINTED in the way you covered this story. Instead of doing what you do best, helping us understand the context of coverage, particularly the filter through which news is delivered to us, you actually jumped in and became part of the story. Your producer clearly participated in an act as opposed to observing and reporting on it. We expect the silliness from Gawker, and expect more seriousness and objectivity from OTM. Redeem yourselves and finish the story - get Jesse Waters or Bill O'Reilly to talk. Though they probably won't talk to you after you participated in this charade.

To: Jack - Bob has lackeys? Bob is envious of O'Reilly's paycheck? I think maybe you don't quite understand public radio...

To: Lou - Sounds like you didn't listen to the story. They did point out that Michael Moore uses the tactic. And the reason why they used Jesse's tactic on Jesse was pretty clearly explained. Unfortunately OTM blurred the story and instead of observing Gawker committing the ambush, OTM crossed a line to becoming part of it.

To: Leon - the story was about the use ambush interviews, and the extent to which ambushes have become more drastic, not about O'Reilly. Again, like Lou, it sounds like you didn't actually listen to the story.

Jul. 02 2009 11:24 PM
Jack from Chicago

Yawn, you guys and your Fox News obsession are really getting boring. I think you need to open the windows in your conference room and let some fresh air and ideas in. Doing shows that highlight Bob's envy target an audience of only Bob and his lackeys. Bob, we get it, you're outraged that Bill and Rush have higher ratings and paychecks than you. Please move on.

Jul. 02 2009 05:57 PM
Al Méndez from Atlanta, GA

With this piece, OTM is going to be ambushed by Bill O'Reilley' watch dog. The second most fair and balanced news anchorman in the world. Ron Burgundy is the first.

Did OTM's host already received O'Reilly's invitations to appear in his show?

Jul. 02 2009 12:46 PM
lou from NYC

**This story cites two specific examples of these ambush interviews where O'Reilly had not even contacted the "interviewee" beforehand.**

So, they are complaining about O'Reilly and then do the same thing?

**If O'Reilly disagrees with her, why not just call her for an interview? Or comment about it on the show?**

Because O'Reilly is doing it for the theater....and the entertainment/drama value (admittedly!). Is that why NPR/OTM is doing it? Is that why NPR chose not to call Bill O'Reilly for a response?

**How many more details about this "confrontation" do you need?**

The details of why they loathe Bill O'Reilly's approach...but not Michael Moore's tactic...which I believe has not been covered by NPR or OTM.

**The whole point of this story was to turn the tables and use The O'Reilly Factor ambush tactics against them.**

And the point us critics of the piece are making is that it's funny NPR sees O'Reilly's methods as suspect...but no, say....Michael Moore's.

Jun. 30 2009 09:26 PM
Judge John A Connor from Columbus Ohio

I was ambushed by Jesse watters he slept outside my house for about 2 days and then chased me at speeds up to 100 miles an hour(I was on my way to a meeting on sunday morning)I went into the meeting and the cameras were waiting. The interview was quick..They wanted to have me comment on why Igave a sexual offender a year in teatment instead of4 years in prison.I told jesse that if he wanted to talk about sexual predators he should talk to his boss that understood he was an expert in that regard having been involved himself. That part of the interview was never aired.Almost two years later I was elected to the 10th Dist Court of Appeals by a landslide (I was a trial judge for over 16 years)and on election night there was good ole jesse with his camera crew wanting me to make a comment"do you have anything to say to Bill O"Reilly" I answered that he should tell Bill that Iwould love to sit down with him over a cup of coffee and explain the case to him.So far I haven't heard back:)

Jun. 30 2009 11:32 AM
Steve

An additional thought:

The whole point of this story was to turn the tables and use The O'Reilly Factor ambush tactics against them. Apparently they don't like it when it is used against them, and neither do their fans.

As to the content of these confrontations, how does that justify the tactics? But setting that aside, I would welcome an On The Media story about O'Reilly's content. I'm sure it would fare equally well.

Jun. 30 2009 08:46 AM
Steve

Leon, Lou -

This story cites two specific examples of these ambush interviews where O'Reilly had not even contacted the "interviewee" beforehand. What other context do you need? Why follow Amanda Terkel for two hours and then ambush her on vacation when they could have just called her?

How many more details about this "confrontation" do you need? Do you really believe that more details about these "confrontations" will actually be favorable to Bill O'Reilly and Jesse Watters?

Inspired by this story, I read more about the Amanda Terkel ambush. How can any of the details about this episode possibly condone these tactics? If O'Reilly disagrees with her, why not just call her for an interview? Or comment about it on the show? Why stalk her for two hours to get this "interview"?

Regardless of whether or not O'Reilly has anything substantive to say to the people that he "interviews" this way, that moral high ground (if any) is lost when his team engages in this purely theatrical piece of hit-job TV. Although obviously this type of "journalism" is endorsed by some...

Jun. 30 2009 07:30 AM
Lou from America


**You did not cover any of the "confrontation" in depth. What had O'Reilley said and shown before the "confrontation," what was the content of the confrontation, etc. You used generalizations to attack the methodology using unchallenged statements such as "Personnal Vendeta", "Enemies of O'Reilley, items of no significance**

You hit the nail on the head!

How many loaded terms could you use in one story!

It's not analysis.....It's all about the hosts...and their disdain for Fox News.

Jun. 29 2009 10:37 PM
Jim Weldon from Federal Way, WA

I think this experiment demonstrates how ambush "journalism" is not journalism at all. Theater, maybe. Supposedly good for ratings. I still wonder why that is.
Has anyone ever noticed that the '"ambusher" never gets an answer from the "ambushee" ?
I think the ambush approach always makes the "journalist" look impotent. He never gets the answer he is seeking, and usually ends up looking foolish.
The only people more foolish-looking than the reporter are the producers who endorse ambush "journalism". Their assumption is that the ambushee will appear guilty if they don't answer questions in their front yard. Apparently, they don't understand the function of defense attorneys, who always instruct their clients to not talk to media. If they do, they are subject to losing their attorneys. This has nothing to do with actual guilt: Ambushes are almost always done before an actual trial has started.
Even when there is no actual criminal activity alleged, the ambush makes the reporter look stupid.
If the purpose of journalism is to answer questions, why waste space and time pursuing answers that everyone knows will not be provided?

Jun. 29 2009 09:58 PM
Leon from United States

I am, as usual, pretty dissappointed in your approach. You did not cover any of the "confrontation" in depth. What had O'Reilley said and shown before the "confrontation," what was the content of the confrontation, etc. You used generalizations to attack the methodology using unchallenged statements such as "Personnal Vendeta", "Enemies of O'Reilley, items of no significance, etc.
This is not my experience. I listen to both NPR and O'Reilley, he is a lot more fair to you, than you to him.
He challenges Judges who give a one year sentence to a rapist child abuser, he knows neither the Judge or the perpetrator, so how are they his "enemies" as you portray them without challenge. He invites the Judge to answer questions, and is rebuffed. You may have been told by person "ambushed" he was not contacted. Did you check with O'Reilley.

I believe I said enough. Perhaps you should challenge O'Reilley and sit at a neutral location and have a debate.

As is yours is a straight forward, one sided attack.

Disgustedly
Leon Rogson

Jun. 28 2009 08:04 PM

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