In the past month, Bill O'Reilly has repeatedly misrepresented and smeared women's health activist Sandra Fluke and falsely claimed that she has advocated for universal taxpayer-funded contraception. In fact, as she made clear in her testimony in front of a congressional panel in February, Fluke was voicing support for the health care mandate that requires private health insurance plans -- which women already pay for -- to cover women's preventive health services without a co-pay.
The mandate is intended only for private health insurance companies where premiums are paid by individuals, often through their employer -- not the taxpayer. Religious organizations are exempt from complying with this requirement.
O'Reilly has criticized and misrepresented Fluke's testimony five times in the last four weeks, most recently on September 18 during his interview with Comedy Central's Jon Stewart:
After Stewart described Fluke as speaking "about an issue close to her heart," O'Reilly interjected, "and her hand in my wallet at the same time." He then asked, "Do you want to pay for this woman's birth control?" adding, "She wants everybody['s contraception] to get paid for."
A Nexis search reveals that in addition to Tuesday night, O'Reilly has said:
- September 13 -- O'Reilly stated: "Of course" Fluke is "demanding the taxpayer fund female birth control, abortion, and now transgender operations."
- September 11 -- O'Reilly stated: Americans "don't want to pay for Sandra Fluke's lifestyle choices." O'Reilly went on to say, "if you're going to tell me that I got to pay for Sandra Fluke's birth control, I'm going to tell you that's an extremist position."
- September 5 -- O'Reilly stated: "Sandra Fluke wants us to pay for her birth control."
- August 27 - O'Reilly described, "Sandra Fluke, who wants everybody to pay for her birth control." He asked his guest, Juan Williams, "Do you want to pay for [her] birth control?" He finished by claiming that Fluke "wants us to pick up her lifestyle expenses," and said in another segment that Fluke "believes the constitution mandates that the American people pay for her birth control."
In addition, O'Reilly has repeatedly attacked or facilitated attacks on Fluke on his show:
- September 13 - O'Reilly read an email from a viewer who claimed she "stood up and cheered Dennis Miller hammering Sandra Fluke," and an email that rebuked O'Reilly for falsely claiming the activist wanted government to pay for her birth control - a charge O'Reilly denied.
- September 12 - O'Reilly guest Dennis Miller said that Fluke "reminds me of that character, the little whiney girl in 'Willy Wonka,' Veruca Salt, 'Daddy, I want my own Oompa Loompa.' It's code for 'Hey, you, pay for my diaphragm.' People [are] sick of it, honey....[You're] a 31-year-old woman who's stuck in a Virginia Slims magazine ad from 1968."
- September 11 - O'Reilly read two viewer emails that reference Fluke. One contrasted her opposition to mandatory ultrasounds for women who want abortions to her advocacy for abortion rights. The other defended Fluke, saying "you are coming across as the extremist, not Sandra Fluke." He discussed Fluke with two guests in a segment on gender reassignment surgery for prison inmates and suggested she would require Fox News to pay for his surgery, if he wanted it.
- September 10 - O'Reilly called Fluke's speech "smug and immature," invoked her name twice when discussing the convention with guest Brit Hume and asked two of his guests, Juan Williams and Mary Katharine Ham, if they believed her to be an extremist.
- September 6 - When guest Megyn Kelly mentioned that Fluke was given a prime time speaking slot, O'Reilly commented, "Yes, you know, smirking all the way through it."
- September 5 - O'Reilly [listed] categorized Sandra Fluke as a "far left loon" who the Democrats were highlighting at their convention. He said "President Obama should be embarrassed."
- August 30 - O'Reilly: "I'm just wondering when Sandra Fluke speaks next week at the Democratic Convention, what they're going to drop from the ceiling."
- August 29 - Previewing the Democratic convention, O'Reilly said "they're loading up the Charlotte convention with Sandra Fluke and NARAL and, I mean, all the far left women."
Even in O'Reilly's absence, his guest host Laura Ingraham mentioned Fluke several times while asking if "Democrats are going overboard with their war on women campaign?"
Under the Affordable Care Act, "up to 47 million women may be eligible to get free access to preventive health care services," which include, among other services:
- Well-woman visits, including an annual check-up for adult women to get recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their doctors determine them necessary.
- Contraception and contraceptive counseling: Women will have free access to all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling without a co-pay. Most workers in employer-sponsored plans are currently covered for contraceptives.
- Gestational diabetes screening for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling for pregnant and postpartum women, including access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment.
O'Reilly is not the only Fox News host to have recently spread the falsehood that Fluke wants taxpayers to pay for her birth control. The same day as O'Reilly's Stewart interview, contributor Charles Krauthammer said that Fluke's "great demand" is "that ordinary Americans, average income $50,000, pay her contraceptives." He called her the "personification of the idea of entitlement, of victimization."
On the September 6 edition of The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said that Fluke "wants you to pay for her birth control. I am [woman], hear me roar is now I am needy, give me more." The next day he smeared actress and Obama supporter Scarlett Johansson, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention, saying that since the actress is "worth millions," she should pay for her friends' contraception, "instead of asking me." His co-host Dana Perino, on August 23, said "thanks to Sandra Fluke and President Obama women now have free birth control."
The "free birth control" smear has also filtered into Fox's ostensibly "straight news" shows, with Megyn Kelly claiming, "You got Sandra Fluke out there saying thank God for government paying for my birth control, which for me is now free," and White House reporter Ed Henry saying that "a fight with the Catholic Church" over contraception coverage "highlighted [Obama's] support for free contraception."