Sep 20 2008

Bill O’Reilly’s web site compromised

Published by at 4:32 am under Hacking

Bill O’Reilly doesn’t understand hackers.  Nor does he understand the law.  In retaliation for comments made on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly’s web site was hacked and information about some of the people who use his site were posted to Wikileaks, along with screen shots of the administrative interface of his site.

On air, Bill O’Reilly had called for the heads of the people responsible for hacking Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account.  He’d gone on to claim that the people at Wikileaks who posted the screenshots of Palin’s email were dispicable and should be arrested.  The hack was in direct retaliation for these comments.

What O’Reilly doesn’t understand is that Wikileaks did absolutely nothing illegal under our federal laws.  In May of 2001, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Bartnicki vs. Vopper that clearly states that even if information is gained using illegal means, publishing, broadcasting or otherwise making available the information is legal.  The basic thought behind this decision was that the person or organization publishing the data did nothing wrong and had every right to publish.  The person who got the information in the first place is still 100% liable, but publishing the information isn’t a crime.

As a reporter, I’m surprised O’Reilly wasn’t aware of this interpretation of the law.  It’s there to protect reporters and to enable them (and bloggers too) to report on incidents were the original information might be obtained illegally.  Say, maybe tapes that get stolen and prove Presidential wrong doing, ala Watergate.  I hope Bill gets his site secured soon.  And I hope he learned a little from the experience.

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10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Bill O’Reilly’s web site compromised”

  1. Shawnon 20 Sep 2008 at 6:32 am

    Let’s be clear. Bill O’Reilly is not a reporter. He’s a commentator. His position does not require him to know facts. He is required to know only the facts that support his arguments, not the facts that don’t.

  2. Martinon 20 Sep 2008 at 6:36 am


    I’ll concede your point, but ouch. I can’t even defend O’Reilly enough to say he’s a good commentator. If he was, he wouldn’t be on Fox.


  3. steveon 20 Sep 2008 at 7:05 am

    Considering O’Reilly is the number one or two cable news show on a very consistent basis…. your comment on “…. if he was he wouldn’t be of Fox is a joke!

  4. Martinon 20 Sep 2008 at 7:10 am

    It sort of was. I’m not a big fan of Fox News and their sensationalism. And I’m not a big fan of O’Reilly’s. Besides, being #1 or #2 on a consistent basis just means your entertaining, not right.

    I prefer NPR and PBS commentary to mainstream news media. I don’t always agree with them either, but I find them to be much more even and level headed in their stories, rather than bombastic.


  5. Mark Lon 20 Sep 2008 at 7:56 am

    Heh, you may as well not watch any news then. None of the news shows do any more than sensationalizing. A few weeks ago I was on a business trip, and all my morning customer meetings got cancelled. I was in my hotel room working with the news on in the background for a couple of hours. The amount of teasers, sensationalism and commentator “outrage” was just silly. Information I had heard the night before on the same news channel seemed to have been forgotten – or never told to – the morning show talking heads. Getting such a concentrated dose in one sitting made me realize how bad our media has become. They cater to the ADHD, sound-bite news now.

    O’Reilly, Hannity, Matthews and Olberman should all be banned from the airwaves.

    Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a decent , relatively unbiased news source any more. Even the WSJ and NY Times are seeing quality levels drop. About all you can do is keep an eye on several of them and try to put things together.

  6. Nameon 20 Sep 2008 at 2:33 pm

    @Mark L: Try NPR or CPB/PBS for (mostly) non-sensationalized news. It’s also “free”.

  7. Leeon 21 Sep 2008 at 6:36 pm


    Excellent Point about entertainment. I remember back in Seattle there was a radio announcer who was full of it, but fun to listen to. I didn’t like his views, but he was entertaining, and he was funny. He also got my ratings because he made the drive home easier.

    About O’Reilly, I am a fan of his and FOX News. They are entertaining and present the news in a format I like. All stations sensationalize as you and Mark were saying, but FOX is crushing other stations in ratings for a reason.

    I don’t agree with everything I watch. I have a mind of my own, and if I don’t subscribe to their view on something, I toss it. I also can’t stand beyond sensationalism that some stations or publications put on that constantly trashes one side or the other.

    One thing O’Reilly is right about, and no matter where you stand politically you should also agree with – we need to restore civility one to another in our society. We can disagree without bomb throwing. We can have a heated debate and at the end, shake hands and be friends and fellow Americans.

  8. Jeff Martenson 23 Sep 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I prefer BBC by a narrow margin over NPR. The problem, IMHO, with NPR is that rather than covering a story, they often cover the coverage of a story. For example, in their way of thinking, the presidential race isn’t about issues since the American people (supposedly) don’t want to think about the issues, so they don’t report on issues. They report it as a horse race with an emphasis on what others are saying.

    There is no good US-based election coverage.

  9. Kimon 23 Sep 2008 at 8:14 pm

    “Should be” is not “will be.” If your personal communication, files, or contact lists showed up there, I’m sure you’d have no great love for their trashing your privacy, irrespective of its legality.

  10. Vinnie Mardoon 06 Oct 2008 at 2:28 pm

    If anyone would incur the wrath of freedom loving Americans while simultaneously talking about a legal issue, it would be Mr. O’Reilly. He may or may not be a good commentator, but in my view he’s so insulting and sour that I can’t get past that self-important look on his face and tone in his voice. Thusly, I’m not surprised that his site was hacked in this manner and I’m guessing similar events are in the works.

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