The No Skin Zone
Bill O'Reilly's obsession with porn.
In February 2003, he returned to the topic of Jenna Jameson after Pony hired her to sell sneakers. The vibe of the first encounter—the thrill of humiliating her—took an even racier twist. Note again his (joking?) admission to watching porn:
O'Reilly: Our pal, porn star Jenna Jamison, is mad at me for criticizing the Pony sneaker company for hiring her as a pitchwoman. Jenna e-mailed us today and said, in part, "I hope Bill understands the difference between a porn star and a hooker. I assume he has done some research on the subject because he requested some of my videos after we finished taping my appearance. I imagine he wanted them for professional reasons."
Of course I did, Jenna. Having any other motivation would be ridiculous. Enjoy your sneakers.
On Jan. 22, 2003, O'Reilly quizzed Diane Sawyer on an ABC report about corporations like AOL Time Warner and GM profiting from porn. He talked about the same subject on Nov. 1, 2002, with Jan LaRue, chief counsel for the conservative group Concerned Women for America. LaRue caught on to his pattern of titillation and damnation; she posted an open letter saying she felt betrayed by the way he used the issue as a setup "to attract viewers." She also wondered if he knew "the depravity of the material these corporations are offering."
My hunch is that O'Reilly had some idea; after all, he's dabbled in soft-core depravity himself. The final scene in his novel Those Who Trespass describes the characters making love at a Caribbean resort, a setting which now evokes another of Mackris' allegations. On the second-to-last page, he describes the hero's tryst with the heroine after a long day on the beach. O'Reilly writes: "Tommy O'Malley was naked and at attention. 'Drowning is not an option,' he said, 'unless, of course, you beg me to perform unnatural acts right here in the shower.' " He has hawked the novel on his show in the slot he now uses to sells his handbook, The O'Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for America's Families.
O'Reilly has frequently said that what adults do in private is their own business. But he adds a fatal caveat—unless that person is a public figure. "Some of the most influential people in our society—like Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., and Darryl Strawberry—provide a dismal example to our nation's youth," he writes in his book The No-Spin Zone. So why is Fox News' biggest star exempt from role-modeling responsibilities?
Michael Hastings is a reporter for Newsweek International.
Photograph of Bill O'Reilly by Lisa Miller/Reuters.