O’REILLY’S PRODUCERS DIDN’T WANT TO TALK…. The New York Times’ Brian Stelter had an interesting item today on Bill O’Reilly’s practices of ambushing his perceived enemies in public. You know the drill — someone offends O’Reilly in some way, so he sends guys like Jesse Watters out to make the adversary appear foolish. In defending the practice, O’Reilly has said, “I’m doing it because there’s no other way to hold these villains accountable.”

And what does Jesse Watters have to say about his role as O’Reilly’s attack dog? Not much.

The Fox News producer responsible for most of the ambush interviews, Jesse Watters, refused repeated interview requests. But the network did make David Tabacoff, the program’s senior executive producer, available to comment. Mr. Tabacoff — who started a telephone interview by asking, “This is going to be a fair piece, correct?” — said the interviews are “part of the journalistic mission” of “The O’Reilly Factor.” He called the program an “opinion-driven show that has a journalistic basis.”

“We’re trying to get answers from people,” he said. “Sometimes the only way to get them is via these methods.”

The attitude, as summarized by Mr. Watters in a BillOReilly.com blog post: “If they don’t come to us, we’ll go to them.”

Wait, wait, wait. Jesse Watters “refused repeated interview requests”? By the reasoning of his employer doesn’t that necessarily mean that the NYT‘s Brian Stelter should have gone to Watters home and ambushed him?

After all, the New York Times was “trying to get answers,” right? If Watters won’t come to the Times, shouldn’t the Times go to Watters?

Apparently, via Twitter, Stetler explained, “O’Reilly’s ambush producers wouldn’t talk. I tried asking thru PR people; tried Facebook; tried phone calls. But didn’t visit their homes.”

Interesting standard.

Steve Benen

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.