O'Reilly omitted key parts of Dallas Morning News column in attack on writer

››› ››› SAM GILL

On the October 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly misleadingly quoted an October 15 column by Macarena Hernandez in The Dallas Morning News in order to deflect her criticism of what she described as O'Reilly's anti-immigration views. The column recounted the story of six Mexican immigrants brutally murdered in Georgia, and it blamed anti-immigrant rhetoric, in part, for the vulnerability of many immigrants to theft and violent crime. When Paul Johnson, the mayor of the town where the beatings occurred, flew the Mexican flag at city hall as a memorial, some residents complained, which Hernandez attributed to an overall anti-immigrant sentiment that she suggested was fueled by people like O'Reilly.

During the "Talking Points Memo" segment of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly called Hernandez's claims "dishonest" and her column "a matter of deceit." To support his claims, he offered the following excerpt from her column:

"Were the complainers angrier about the red, white and green Mexican flag fluttering in the Georgia air than they were about the horrific murders? Do they watch Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, where the anchor and the callers constantly point to the southern border as the birth of all America's ills? ... It is one thing to want to secure the borders and another to preach hate. ... Taken literally, such rhetoric gives criminals like those in southern Georgia license to kill."

O'Reilly then said that "we have no callers on The O'Reilly Factor" and presumed that "she got her information from some smear website."

However, the actual column reads:

Were the complainers angrier about the red, white and green Mexican flag fluttering in the Georgia air than they were about the horrific murders? Do they watch Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, where the anchor and the callers constantly point to the southern border as the birth of all America's ills? (Sample comment: "Each one of those people is a biological weapon.")

It is one thing to want to secure the borders and another to preach hate, to talk of human beings as ailments. Taken literally, such rhetoric gives criminals like those in southern Georgia license to kill; it gives others permission to look the other way. In this heightened anti-immigrant climate, what Mr. Johnson did was not only a welcome gesture, but a brave one, too.

When reading from Hernandez's column, O'Reilly omitted the example that Hernandez cited as an illustration of the anti-immigration rhetoric of O'Reilly and his callers -- "Each one of those people is a biological weapon" -- as well as a reference to that example in the following paragraph. According to The O'Reilly Factor, the succeeding paragraph read: "It is one thing to want to secure the borders and another to preach hate. ... Taken literally ..." But in Hernandez's column, the sentence read: "It is one thing to want to secure the borders and another to preach hate, to talk of human beings as ailments. Taken literally ..." What is to be "taken literally," according to Hernandez, is not talk of securing borders but a reference to immigrants as biological weapons. O'Reilly deliberately removed any mention of the evidence Hernandez used to support her accusations.

While O'Reilly may be correct that "we have no callers on The O'Reilly Factor," his nationally syndicated radio show, Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, from which the "sample comment" Hernandez cited was taken, does receive callers. As Media Matters for America has previously reported, on the April 15 broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly agreed with a caller who suggested that each undocumented immigrant "is a biological weapon." O'Reilly told the caller, "You might be right," and continued: "I think you could probably make an absolutely airtight case that more than 3,000 Americans have been either killed or injured, based on the 11 million illegals who are here." Strategically removing Hernandez's reference to these statements blunts her claims and falsely lends credence to O'Reilly's baseless counteraccusation that Hernandez is "dishonest."

From the October 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: A few weeks ago, six Mexican farm workers were murdered in Georgia. The mayor of Tifton, Georgia, where the killings took place, responded by flying the Mexican flag at city hall in sympathy. Now, apparently some residents complained about that.

Enter Dallas Morning News columnist Macarena Hernandez, who wrote these astounding words: "Were the complainers angrier about the red, white and green Mexican flag fluttering in the Georgia air than they were about the horrific murders? Do they watch Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, where the anchor and the callers constantly point to the southern border as the birth of all America's ills? ... It is one thing to want to secure the borders and another to preach hate ... Taken literally, such rhetoric gives criminals like those in southern Georgia license to kill."

So what Ms. Hernandez is telling her readers is that this program preaches hate and encourages murder. That's what this dishonest woman is doing.

Now, first of all, we have no callers on The O'Reilly Factor as anybody who'd watch the program knows. So Hernandez doesn't know what she's talking about. I suspect she got her information from some smear website.

Secondly, I'm on record time and again as sympathizing with Mexican workers.

[begin video clip]

O'REILLY: I'd always said if I were a poor Mexican, I would try to cross the border, and earn money here, and send it back to my family. I don't blame the illegal aliens. I blame the federal governments of both Mexico and the United States of America. I mean, I don't think you could deport 11 million people. And if I were a poor, Mexican worker, I'd do the same thing that these people do. I have nothing -- I -- you know, they're hardworking, most of them. They're good people.

[end video clip]

O'REILLY: So there's the proof that Macarena Hernandez is a liar. This isn't a matter of opinion. This is a matter of deceit.

From the April 15 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

CALLER: Hi, Bill. The point of my call today is I'd like to take a different look at illegal immigration. I believe that it has the same impact as a major terrorist attack. And here's what I mean: If you take the sum total of the economic consequences of illegal immigration, and also consider that the illegals crossing the border, that are coming across with, say, tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy -- each one of those people is a biological weapon.

And I believe that illegal immigration is -- equals and surpasses the impact of 9-11. And it is incumbent upon the president to close the borders.

O'REILLY: Well, you might be right, [caller]. And, you know, if you look at it that way, you've got 11 million at least here, unsupervised. Nobody knows the condition they're in. And you have 3,000 dead from 9-11.

So, you got 11 million running around unsupervised now. You got 3,000 dead on 9-11, so you do the math and you say, "Well, how many of these 11 million people have impacted negatively on American citizens?" I think you could probably make an absolutely airtight case that more than 3,000 Americans have been either killed or injured, based upon the 11 million illegals who are here.

You could make that case. And you would be absolutely right. But the reason that President Bush, and President Clinton, and President Bush the elder, and President Reagan, and President Carter all got away with doing nothing to secure the borders of the United States is that this is a shadow world. Most of us don't see it. We don't see pictures like we saw on 9-11, of planes crashing into buildings. We don't see dead people in the street. We don't see weeping widows -- we don't see it.

Posted In
Immigration, National Security & Foreign Policy
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