O'Reilly, Mattera Clash Over 'Ambush Journalism' on Hillary Clinton's Role in Benghazi

During the Wednesday evening episode of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly slammed conservative activist Jason Mattera's “ambush journalism” of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, calling it “unacceptable” to use “a horrendous act of terror to make a political point.”

After Martha MacCallum, another Fox anchor, appeared in the segment and agreed with O'Reilly. Mattera tweeted: “Rather than invite me to debate the Hillary video, @oreillyfactor brings on someone else to parrot his points. Yeah, 'fair and balanced.'"

The conflict began when O'Reilly stated he was going to discuss “a troubling story. As you may know, Hillary Clinton is on a book tour, and in Washington, a conservative activist named Jason Mattera confronted Mrs. Clinton."

During a video of the encounter, Mattera approached Hillary Clinton on the street and said: “Hi, Secretary Clinton. Could you sign this for me?”

When he handed her a copy of her book “Hard Choices,” Clinton responded: “What's your name?”

“If you can make it out to Christopher Stevens,” Mattera replied. “I think you knew him” as the United States ambassador to Libya and one of four Americans killed in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

“I'm not going to make this out to Stevens,” Clinton said as she realized she was a victim of “ambush journalism,” a tactic reporters use to throw people off guard and hopefully catch them in a lie or a mistake.

“What difference does it make?” Mattera then asked, a reference to Clinton inquiring “What difference, at this point, does it make?” during a Congressional hearing in January of 2013 on the deaths in Benghazi.

Clinton then signed the book and said: “Here it goes. Here's your autograph.”

“You have more security than Chris Stevens had in Benghazi,” Mattera noted.

At that point, a male bodyguard intervened as Clinton walked away. “Have a good night,” he said.

“I'm having a great night,” Mattera responded at the end of the video clip.

“Now I thought Mattera was out of line,” O'Reilly stated. “Mister Mattera has been on the Factor before, but using a horrendous act of terror to make a political point – unacceptable.”

At that point, the host welcomed Martha MacCallum, the co-host of America's Newsroom with Bill Hemmer, and asked what she thought about the incident.

"I have to agree,” she responded. “I had the same reaction when I saw it. It's over the line. You're talking about someone who was a personal friend of Hillary Clinton's. You're talking about a death."

Mattera “does this a lot,” MacCallum continued. “It's usually about ObamaCare, about debt, about irresponsible spending, that kind of thing, or Hollywood hypocrisy. He went after Harrison Ford on environmental issues.”

“This is a whole different thing,” she added. “He was trying to create the irony of saying that she was surrounded by more security than Chris Stevens was in Benghazi. It fell flat. It's thoughtless.”

O'Reilly then noted: “I think there's two things in play here. Number one: I thought Hillary Clinton handled it well, much better than I would have.”

“She's been under fire many times,” MacCallum interjected. “People have hurled many things at her when she's walking down the street.”

The Factor host again praised the former New York senator for her response: “You do something spontaneous like that, and you hit someone by surprise as he did, and she was being polite, You know, 'Who can I sign it to?'”

O'Reilly then declared:

This hurts conservatives, it doesn't help them, alright? Anybody who thinks that it does, really … it's troubling.

You could make your points about Hillary Clinton's stature as secretary of state and her responsibility in Benghazi without doing that cheap stuff.

“I agree,” MacCallum said as the segment concluded.

But the discussion didn't stop there. After watching the program, Mattera tweeted: “Let's be honest, that was @oreillyfactor blowing a wet kiss to Hillary in order to score an interview.”

In another posting, he declared: “Rather than invite me to debate Hillary video, @oreillyfactor brings on someone else to parrot his points. Yeah, 'fair and balanced.'"

Referring to the regular “Watters' World” segment, Mattera stated: “So it's OK to embarrass college coeds for Factor ratings, but not okay to embarrass Hillary Clinton.”

Just to be clear, let me state that I've never been a fan of so-called “ambush journalism,” which is pushing a microphone in someone's face while they're walking down the street in the hope of catching him or her in a lie or a mistake.

However, I also think it was a bad idea for O'Reilly not to bring Mattera on so the conservative activist could defend his tactic face to face. Let's hope the Factor does that soon.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall