The ladies and gentleman of Gawker probably aren’t going to find themselves as guests on Fox and Friends anytime soon.
The news website launched the latest volley in an ongoing media spat between the two organizations Tuesday, posting a report accusing Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly of trying to leverage the promise of a hefty donation to a New York police charity to get a local police department to investigate a detective he suspected of being romantically involved with his wife.
“[I]t’s like Bridges of Madison County meets Copland,” writes the news and gossip blog. “When confronted with a potentially disloyal spouse, O'Reilly reacted by … treating his local police department like a private security force and trying to damage one cop's career for the sin of crossing Bill O'Reilly.”
The article, it should be noted, is based heavily on a single anonymous source with "a longstanding personal relationship" with Richard Harasym, the former Nassau County Police Department detective allegedly ordered to launch the investigation into a fellow officer.
Gawker's source … heard the account directly from Harasym himself. The source provided contemporaneous e-mail traffic to support his account. "He told me, 'You'll never guess what happened to me the other day. Do you know Bill O'Reilly? I got called into my boss' office saying they wanted me to meet with these two PI's working for O'Reilly to go over some information because a detective was having an affair with O'Reilly's wife.'"
Gawker reporter John Cook fleshes out the story with public records and photography -- along with another anonymous source -- to hammer home the apparent rockiness between O'Reilly and his wife, Maureen McPhilmy. But as the Washington Post's Erik Wemple points out, there's one major part of the story missing: the unnamed detective who allegedly was having the relationship with McPhilmy.*
"It’s that detective who can provide details on every dimension of the story; or, alternatively, tell Cook to mind his own business," Wemple writes.
For his part, Cook tells Wemple that he tried repeatedly to uncover the name of the detective, but came up empty. "I ran into a lot of people who I would ask, ‘Just can you tell me the names of detectives,’ and they’d say, ‘I’m not going to give out names of detectives,” Cook said.
Fox News, unsurprisingly, declined to provide Gawker with a comment for their story. A channel spokesman did, however, offer this quote to Adweek: "Gawker has been lying about Fox News for several years. We are not going to dignify this with any further comment."
*Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Erik Wemple's first name.