Though this was almost 15 years ago, I can remember the experience of being a guest on “The Factor” so well because it’s an episode that still haunts and disturbs me to this day. And the dismissive way O’Reilly dealt with my own history as a victim of assault made the allegations that finally pushed Fox News to fire him this week feel all too familiar.
At 19, I appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor” to tell my story in the hopes that it would prevent sexual assault. Six years earlier, I had been molested by a man who I went to go meet after I spent six months developing an online relationship with him. The assault occurred in 1996 and resulted in a landmark federal case.
O’Reilly challenged me about the fact that I decided to go meet this person I didn’t know. He then insisted that at 13, I should have known better than go meet someone, and I should have been able to predict what would happen. Fair enough; in the back of my head, even then, I did know I was taking a massive risk. In typical O’Reilly preaching, though, he told me I made a huge mistake and appeared to suggest that I deserved to become a victim of sexual assault because I knew I was doing something I shouldn’t have done.
I sat there speechless. I stared at him. All I could think to ask was, “You’ve never made mistakes at 13?” His answer, “Well, that’s a really big one to make.”