O'Reilly maintained false denials of on-air comments on immigrants
On the October 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely accused Denver Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez of misquoting him and persisted in his false denials of anti-immigrant comments he made in April.
In an October 25 Denver Post column, Rodriguez wrote:
In April, O'Reilly agreed with a caller to his radio program who labeled illegal immigrants “biological weapons” because they may have “tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy.”
O'Reilly's response: “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.”
Huh? That doesn't even make sense.
That night on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly complained, “How can a columnist like Cindy Rodriguez say that I basically told people that illegal aliens killed 3,000 Americans?” Not only did O'Reilly misquote Rodriguez's accurate presentation of his April 15 remarks, but he also perpetuated his repeated denials that he ever made such comments.
As Media Matters for America noted at the time, the April 15 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, featured the following discussion:
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: You might be right, [caller]. And, 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.
In an October 15 Dallas Morning News column, Macarena Hernandez criticized these remarks while blaming anti-immigrant rhetoric, in part, for the vulnerability of many immigrants to theft and violent crime:
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.
Hernandez's comments sparked vigorous protest from O'Reilly who, as Media Matters has documented, first omitted her example of his April 15 comments from his response and then, when prompted by an email to his television show, deceptively claimed that he “never said anything like that.” O'Reilly then widened his attack to include Media Matters for America, calling us “100 percent dishonest” for making information available to “fanatical people like Macarena Hernandez,” although Media Matters' presentation of the April 15 remarks included an accurate and detailed transcript of the discussion between O'Reilly and the caller.
Despite Rodriguez's latest contribution to criticism of O'Reilly's comments, O'Reilly maintained that he never made such comments, imploring, “How can a columnist like Cindy Rodriguez say that I basically told people that illegal aliens killed 3,000 Americans? It's insane. It's insane.”
From the October 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: But that's not true. Look, you know this. They don't watch The Factor. I mean, how can a columnist get the radio and television program mixed up as Hernandez did in The Dallas Morning News? How can a columnist like Cindy Rodriguez say that I basically told people that illegal aliens killed 3,000 Americans? It's insane. It's insane.