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On the February 21 edition of her nationally syndicated talk show, Oprah Winfrey hosted Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly during a discussion about child molestation but failed to question O'Reilly about his suggestion that Shawn Hornbeck -- the young boy who was abducted at age 11, held for four years and then found by police in Missouri -- may have willingly remained with his captor because he was having "a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents."
Winfrey did note that O'Reilly had speculated about why Hornbeck did not flee, but did not explain to her viewers the extent and full content of O'Reilly's comments. During his February 21 appearance, O'Reilly told Winfrey that Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome "is the key to the [Michael] Devlin case and the Shawn Hornbeck situation" and that the assertion by the "idiot media people" that Hornbeck suffered from Stockholm Syndrome is "a bunch of crap." Winfrey then asked: "Is that why you asked the question, 'Why [didn't?] he run?' " -- to which O'Reilly replied: "Right, right. Because people have to know how bad this is."
As Media Matters for America documented, on the January 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly asserted that "there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances" and that "[t]he situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents." On the January 16, 17, and 22 editions of his program, O'Reilly defended those statements and vowed to "apologize" if he was "wrong," as Media Matters also noted.
Additionally, as Media Matters documented, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children replaced O'Reilly as keynote speaker at a fundraising event, a detail that Winfrey ignored during her discussion with O'Reilly. As Keith Olbermann reported on the February 9 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children did not provide a reason for its decision to replace O'Reilly but issued the following statement:
In response to the numerous e-mails and inquiries we have received, we are providing the following update regarding the Collier County, Florida branch fundraising dinner scheduled for March 9, 2007 in Naples, Florida. Bill O'Reilly, host of The O'Reilly Factor, will not be a speaker at the dinner. The dinner will be held as scheduled. John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted, will be the keynote speaker.
From the February 21 edition of The Oprah Winfrey Show:
WINFREY: Why do you think this country has not risen up with a united voice against this issue?
O'REILLY: Because it -- nobody wants to think about it. It's too grisly. Do you know what Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome is, Oprah?
O'REILLY: All right. This is so horrifying and this is the key to the Devlin case and the Shawn Hornbeck situation. It is so horrifying what these pedophiles do to these kids. You heard from Todd --
O'REILLY: -- and I bet you Todd just told you 10-15 percent of what happened to him.
WINFREY: If that.
O'REILLY: OK. Right. OK. This Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome is basically a torture where these pedophiles -- and they learn this technique -- torture young girls and boys, little girls and boys, where they get them to a state where they are so confused they don't know what they're doing. OK. It's like -- and -- it's like if you were in a torture chamber in, you know --
O'REILLY: -- some kind of horror movie, all right, and then, when they break the kid down and the kid doesn't know what he's doing then they do what they want with the kid.
Now, America doesn't want to confront this. It's not Stockholm Syndrome. Remember, in the Devlin case, all these idiot media people run up, "Oh, Stockholm Syndrome, like Patty Hearst." What a bunch of crap. I'm sorry I had to use that word, but it is just garbage, all right. This is way beyond that. This is torture -- systematic torture.
WINFREY: Is that why you asked the question: "Why [didn't?] he run?" You asked --
O'REILLY: Right, right. Because people have to know how bad this is, all right. This is taking a human being, a little child, and in the worst possible way, torturing that child over months to break the child down and the child doesn't know what they're doing.
WINFREY: Yeah, Todd's here nodding, Bill, because he knows what you're talking about.
O'REILLY: Now, there's two ways to fight this, all right. Number one: with the law, which we just talked about. Anybody doing this kind of stuff, it's life in prison. Period. That's it. And the second thing is for parents to understand that you have to educate.