After weeks of being criticized for suggesting that a gay Colorado lawmaker might be trying to protect child molesters, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attempted to clarify his earlier comments by stating that homosexuality has "nothing to do with the crime of pedophilia."
Since late February, O'Reilly has devoted multiple segments of his show, The O'Reilly Factor, to campaigning against openly gay Colorado lawmaker Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-2) over his opposition to "Jessica's Law," a measure that would impose a 25-year sentence on those found guilty of sexually assaulting children.
O'Reilly's attacks have drawn widespread criticism, primarily because of his insistence on bringing up Ferrandino's sexual orientation while discussing the lawmaker's opposition to new penalties for child molesters. The Colorado Democratic Party called the attacks "shameless" and "vicious," and The Denver Post's editorial page editor Curtis Hubbard condemned O'Reilly, writing:
O'Reilly's fear-mongering should offend all Coloradans. He was saying "gay," but what he wanted his listeners to hear was "pervert-pedophile."
Even Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg agreed that O'Reilly's commentary had bordered on conflating the line between homosexuality and pedophilia, asking O'Reilly "what does [Ferrandino's] sexuality have anything to do" with his position on Jessica's Law?
The widespread condemnation of O'Reilly's attacks seems to have put the Fox News host on the defensive.
During the March 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly responded to a viewer email that echoed concerns about his comments, clarifying that "homosexuality has nothing to do with the crime of pedophilia" while doubling down on his attacks:
O'REILLY: I have to report the truth here. First truism, homosexuality has nothing to do with the crime of pedophilia. Second, everyone we report on is defined and that guy is proud of his circumstance and promotes it, so we reported it.