Fox News' Bill O'Reilly berated a guest on his show, calling him a "smear merchant" and a "charlatan," for accurately accusing him of attempting to depict a gay Colorado lawmaker as being lenient towards child molesters.
During the March 13 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly hosted Denver Post editorial page editor Curtis Hubbard to discuss Hubbard's column criticizing O'Reilly's ongoing attacks against openly gay Colorado lawmaker Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-2).
In his March 10 column, Hubbard condemned O'Reilly for repeatedly citing Rep. Ferrandino's sexual orientation while discussing the lawmaker's opposition to Jessica's Law, a measure deemed unnecessary by law enforcement experts and victims' advocates that would impose a 25-year minimum sentence on those found guilty of sexually assaulting children. Hubbard accused O'Reilly of attempting to conflate homosexuality and pedophilia, 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."
Disagree? Then you try explaining what Ferrandino's sexual orientation and stance on civil unions has to do with Jessica's Law.
On his show, O'Reilly denied Hubbard's accusations, calling him a "smear merchant" and a "charlatan":
O'REILLY: I described Ferrandino to the audience because the audience doesn't know who the heck he is and I did it in the context of what his priorities are. His priorities are civil unions, alright, which you guys are going to have pretty soon out there, and legalizing marijuana, which you already have out there. And he's a gay marriage proponent, as you know. So I said he are Ferrandino's priorities, here's what he spends his time on, alright? And Jessica's Law he doesn't want.
O'REILLY: I described him the way he describes himself.
HUBBARD: If you had simply said 'Democrats in Colorado oppose Jessica's law, here's why,' I probably never would have brought it up.
HUBBARD: But the fact of the matter is that you used his sexuality to impugn his character and to imply to your viewers that it was his sexuality -
O'REILLY: I didn't impugn his character at all. I said what his priorities are as Speaker of the House. Look, I'm going to post this on BillOReilly.com, the whole thing, so people can see what a charlatan you are.
In fact, Hubbard's description of O'Reilly's comments is accurate:
- February 22: When O'Reilly first mentioned Ferrandino's sexuality on his show, it was not in the context of the speaker's legislative "priorities." Rather, O'Reilly mentioned Ferrandino's sexuality while asking Colorado Rep. Libby Szabo (R-27) what reason Ferrandino might have for opposing Jessica's Law. When Szabo suggested that Ferrandino might be "protecting somebody" because child molesters "hold more credence" with him than victims do, O'Reilly didn't push back against the accusation.
- March 4: The next time O'Reilly targeted Ferrandino, he cited the lawmaker's support for LGBT equality as evidence that he was trying to "impose a secular paradise" in Colorado - a "paradise" which ostensibly includes lax sentencing for child molesters.
Even conservative media critic Bernie Sanders expressed concern about O'Reilly's description of Ferrandino, asking O'Reilly "what does [Ferrandino's] sexuality have anything to do" with his position on Jessica's Law?
Hubbard's criticism is especially appropriate given that O'Reilly has previously expressed support for the myth that homosexuality is linked to pedophilia (a position he reversed earlier this week after backlash over his attacks on Ferrandino).