Bill O’Reilly (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

Supporters of Donald Trump found themselves in a bind last week after Hillary Clinton blasted the GOP nominee for his treatment of Alicia Machado, a winner of Trump’s Miss Universe beauty pageant in the 1990s. Following her victory, Trump staged a media event to capture her in the midst of a workout. She “gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem,” Trump told his buddies on “Fox & Friends” last week. Defending such actions wasn’t easy, as Newt Gingrich displayed: “You’re not supposed to gain 60 pounds during the year that you’re Miss Universe,” Gingrich said in an appearance before the Log Cabin Republicans.

CNN political commentator and Trump apologist Jeffrey Lord wondered about Machado’s obligations: “I mean people in lives have contracts for all sorts of things. You’re supposed to do what the contract is. If she were in violation of her contract by putting on weight, I don’t know if that’s the case. But if that is the case then that’s a contract violation.”

Turns out that Gingrich and Lord were trying to be too creative, too resourceful. They should have just said what Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said last night — in effect, hey, this is Donald Trump; deal with it! From the mouth of the King of Cable News himself:

It’s the same on the woman issue. This whole Alicia Machado deal is basically a contrived situation. Ms. Machado despises Donald Trump, signed onto the Clinton campaign to disparage him. For his part, Donald Trump does what he always does. He took a business situation — the Miss Universe pageant, which he owned — and tried to maximize publicity. So when Ms. Machado gained some weight in the 1990s, Trump exploited it by taking her to the gym and getting media attention. If you know anything about Donald Trump, that’s what he does — gets attention, sometimes crass attention. So Trump is vulnerable because of his business background and his high-profile marketing strategies. And the Clinton campaign is using that to brand him a misogynist, among other things. Of course the press is playing along with that.

Credit O’Reilly for disconnecting the cause-and-effect circuitry in this situation. There’s nothing at all “contrived” here: Machado indeed has queasy feelings about Donald Trump precisely because of what Donald Trump did to her. The “attention” that Trump sought came at Machado’s expense. And yes, the Clinton campaign is using the episode to “brand” Trump as a misogynist; and the label fits. This is a predictable pattern in O’Reilly’s campaign coverage of Trump: When he does something authentically racist, sexist and misogynist — often, that is — O’Reilly spins the ruckus as an instance of Trump’s enemies attempting to tag him as racist, sexist and misogynist.

For context, O’Reilly has a three-decade-long friendship with Trump and once told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.): “I think he’s an honest man.”