O’Reilly Solves Holloway Case

Last week, after spending the day watching sixteen hours of cable news, we observed that Fox News sought to make itself the go-to outlet for the latest on Natalee Holloway, the missing white woman du jour.

The trend has continued.

According to TVeyes, over the past week “Aruba” has been uttered 685 times on Fox News, while, over the same period, CNN and MSNBC combined for only 415 mentions. Since we like graphs, here’s a day-by-day look:

Source: TVeyes data.

Last night we had the good fortune of catching a few more minutes of Fox News’ blanket coverage. Ruben Trapenberg, a spokesman for the Aruban government, entered the “No-Spin Zone” to talk with Bill O’Reilly.

Here’s an abridged transcript of the interview.

Bill O’Reilly: I’m going to be a little obnoxious here, which is par for the course for me, and I’m going to tell you what your government should do, and you can tell me why you won’t do it or why you can’t do it. According to Aruban law, the prosecutor and the investigating authorities are not allowed to tell the press about evidence, correct?

Ruben Trapenberg: Right.

O’Reilly: Ok. Why don’t you appoint an attorney and give that attorney pro bono to the Holloway family, all right? An Aruban attorney who would work as [liason] between the Aruban government and the family, and give the information to the attorney, who legally then can give it to the family and to the press? Why don’t you do that?

Trapenberg: That’s a possibility. But then remember that the family themselves have already hired an attorney to handle that. So if there is that possibility, they probably would have looked into it already.

O’Reilly: Wait a minute, though. They’ve hired an attorney, but is it an Aruban? I thought it was an American they hired.

Trapenberg: No, it’s a local attorney.

O’Reilly: Now, if they have a local attorney, and you guys should be picking up that tab, by the way, not them.

Ok, stop here. Close your eyes for a moment, and try to envision how O’Reilly would respond if an illegal immigrant’s daughter disappeared in, say, Texas, and sympathizers demanded the U.S. government bankroll an attorney to help the family find the daughter.

Let’s continue.

O’Reilly: Then why don’t you tell your minister, your justice minister, to brief that attorney every day so the attorney can come out and tell the world what the heck is going on?

Trapenberg: Well, it’s a different system, again, Bill.

O’Reilly: No, but that’s legal. We studied your system. You could do that.

Trapenberg: The minister, again, would not have anything to do with it. The legal system, the legal department, works on its own. They are separate. So if it’s legal, then the attorney should be the one handling this, not the minister.

And stop again. Could it be that a government spokesman knows more about Aruban law than Bill O’Reilly, who up until now probably never thought about Aruba except as a place to recuperate after settling out of court? Apparently so.

We pick up the interview in its closing moments.

O’Reilly: Mr. Trapenberg, how long is this going to go on? I’m tired of this. Everybody’s tired of it. We’re all emotionally vested in the case. How long is this going to go on?

Trapenberg: As long as necessary, Bill. You remember the Laci Peterson case, six months before an arrest. There are too many cases on record. It just will take as long as necessary. We can’t make any promises.

O’Reilly: Do you see any break coming up?

Trapenberg: Well, we have heard so many times that [the] case would be resolved in 24 hours. It’s difficult to know what to believe. We just want it, just as much as you, over with. We want to have answers. Where is Natalee? We need to know that.

And here comes the grand finale. O’Reilly thanks Trapenberg, deftly adding a not-so-veiled threat.

O’Reilly: All right, Mr. Trapenberg, we appreciate you being a stand-up guy and coming on. We hope you can work something out to have more information flow coming out there. We don’t want the island to suffer and people not to go there, but frustration is growing in the United States. Thank you, sir.

There you have it. O’Reilly is “tired of this” — perhaps because he watches too much Fox? — but he’s not too tired to dedicate an entire segment of “Factor” to telling an Aruban official just how Aruba could circumvent its own laws in order to feed the maw of Fox News! Nor is he too tired to threaten Trapenberg with the specter of desolate Aruban beaches, empty of Fox viewers who decided to stay home and go to the nearest bass fishing lake for vacation this year.

“A little obnoxious” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.