WHEN O’REILLY SENDS STALKERS…. A few weeks ago, the Alexa Foundation, a group committed to supporting rape survivors, invited Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly to speak at a fundraiser. ThinkProgress’ Amanda Terkel questioned the choice, given his record on the issue.

In response, O’Reilly sought retaliation against Amanda.

This weekend, while on vacation, I was ambushed by O’Reilly’s top hit man, producer Jesse Watters, who accosted me on the street and told me that because I highlighted O’Reilly’s comments, I was causing “pain and suffering” to rape victims and their families. He of course offered no proof to back up this claim, instead choosing to shout questions at me.

The harassment was more than a little scary, apparently including staking out Amanda’s home and following her for two hours.

Now, in some cases, O’Reilly will invite a target onto his show, so he can attack them on the air. If they decline, he’ll retaliate by sending people after the target. In this case, Amanda wasn’t even offered the opportunity to appear on the show — O’Reilly didn’t like her blog post, so he sent men to her apartment.

It’s hard not to hear this and think of the segment on “The Daily Show” last month in which Jon Stewart showed O’Reilly ambushing private, largely unknown citizens, while at the same time, denouncing paparazzi as “scum” who “intrude” on peoples’ lives, and who fail to recognize the importance of “the right to privacy.”

To summarize, if you follow Brad Pitt with a camera for two hours and shout obnoxious questions at him, Bill O’Reilly thinks you’re the “scum of the earth.” If you follow Amanda Terkel with a camera for two hours and shout obnoxious questions at her, Bill O’Reilly thinks you’re a patriot on the Fox News payroll.

It’s worth noting, of course, that O’Reilly has a goal here, and it’s not limited to bullying and corporate-sponsored stalking. Ultimately, I suspect the goal is to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation — don’t criticize O’Reilly, or he might send some people to your home.

Under no circumstances is this acceptable.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.