Susan Estrich uses her March 27 syndicated column -- posted at Newsmax, where she's one of the token liberals -- to defend Bill O'Reilly's appearance at a fund-raiser for an organization that helps rape victims:
What's Bill O'Reilly doing at a benefit for rape victims and their families?
Helping them raise money. Last time I checked, that's a good thing.
I disagree with much of what Bill has to say on most subjects. I think he feels the same way about me. That's fine. But he happens to have a huge following.
Many people agree with him, respect him and might even give more money because of him to a foundation that provides financial support so that the families of rape victims can be with their loved ones during the investigation and trial of the criminal case — which is what the foundation he was supporting in Florida does.
So why exactly is it that we shouldn't let him help us? How is it that you get stronger by excluding people?
Estrich blames only "ratings silliness" for the controversy over O'Reilly -- but at no does she explain what, exactly, O'Reilly actually did to earn the criticism over his recent appearance at an Alexa Foundation fundraiser.
On his radio show three years ago, O'Reilly suggested that a rape victim was responsible for her own rape because she was drunk and dressed less than demurely -- something one would think Estrich would concerned about given that she also writes in her column, "I don't believe in 'blaming' the victim."
O'Reilly further sent one of his producers to stalk and ambush a liberal blogger who highlighted his remarks, then falsely portray the encounter on his show. That sort of behavior is also something you'd think Estrich might be concerned about.
But Estrich doesn't mention any of that. Instead, she writes: "O'Reilly and I don't agree on much, but he's not wrong to hold up a mirror for us, to focus us on what we need to teach our daughters, as well as our sons. And I would definitely take his money."
Estrich also suggests that O'Reilly's status trumps his actual words:
When you tell O'Reilly he's not welcome, you're also telling all the people who watch him every day that you're not so sure about them, either.
On the other hand, having him, and them, on your side can be a major help if you're trying to get something passed almost anywhere in the United States other than Berkeley and Cambridge.
But is capitalizing on a person's status worth it when that person has, again, made statements that are at odds with the cause being promoted in his name?
Estrich seems to be grossly missing the point. The question is not whether the Alexa Foundation is a worthy cause (and nobody has said it's not); it's whether it should have invited a person who has made remarks that appear to contradict its mission. Estrich's refusal to tell the full story of the controversy surrounding O'Reilly ignores the real issue and is a disservice to her readers.