Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly used a promise of a donation to a Nassau County police charity as leverage to try to get police to investigate a detective he suspected was dating his wife, Gawker reported today. It's a startling allegation of police misconduct and a journalist's misuse of his own clout, which reporter John Cook based on a source within the Nassau County Police Department:
Gawker's source is someone who has a longstanding personal relationship with [internal affairs inspector Richard] Harasym, and who 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.'"
Cook had another source at Fox News who said O'Reilly's nephew had gossiped about his aunt dating "a local sheriff." But the Nassau County Police Department didn't officially confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into the officer. Former police commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, who Cook's source said ordered the initial investigation, told Cook, "I was never contacted by Bill O'Reilly or anyone associated with him and asked to launch an investigation."
Gawker teased the story last Friday, when Cook wrote, "the good folks on Fox and Friends did a segment on Gawker this morning, for no apparent reason at all, claiming (falsely!) that our traffic is down 75%." That report "probably has something to do with a story that Fox News knows is coming," Cook wrote--a story it "really does not want published." Fox didn't comment for the Gawker story, but it's a good bet its pundits will have something to say about it on future broadcasts.