Home > The media > Score one for O'Reilly?

Score one for O'Reilly?

Media Matters’s latest item on Bill O’Reilly looks pretty specious:

On the October 20 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly read a viewer’s email expressing concern that O’Reilly had compared illegal immigrants to “biological weapons.” O’Reilly denied the charge, claiming, “I never said anything like that,” and further condemned “dishonest media and smear merchants,” chastising them for “doing tremendous damage to this country.” This denial, however, is deceptive: While O’Reilly did not say those specific words, he agreed with a caller to his radio show who did make that comparison, and he expanded on the caller’s statement.[my emphasis]

Here’s O’Reilly’s statement:

O’REILLY: Cheryl Anderson, Dallas, “Bill, my fiancé is Hispanic. And what you said is of great concern to me. Do you really believe my fiancé is a ‘biological weapon’?” Now, Cheryl’s letter points out the seriousness of a foolish column in a major newspaper. I never said anything like that. But because an irresponsible Dallas Morning News writer printed all kinds of falsehoods, Cheryl thinks I did. Again, we’ve got to start holding dishonest media and smear merchants responsible. They are doing tremendous damage to this country.[my emphasis]

Now, O’Reilly may actually be correct here. Hispanic certainly doesn’t imply illegal immigrant. It doesn’t really even imply immigrant to me. It looks like O’Reilly is reacting to the idea that he believes Hispanics are “biological weapons,” a despicably racist charge. Illegal immigrants as “biological weapons,” while a fairly loathsome statement, is not nearly as bad. “Biological weapon” is not the real problem in the caller’s question, it’s the conflation of Hispanic and illegal immigrant.

Categories: The media
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