O'Reilly smears hate crimes bill with false claim that pedophiles could be protected

Bill O'Reilly claimed that pedophiles could be protected under the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which defines as a federal crime acts of violence motivated by prejudice against people with disabilities, among others. But pedophilia is not considered a “disability” under current federal law.

On the May 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that pedophiles could be protected under the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act -- which defines as a federal crime certain acts of attempted violence committed “because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person.” Specifically, O'Reilly said: "[Y]ou could make an argument that a pedophile has a disease, and because the disease is there, he's a target or she's a target." O'Reilly later added that pedophiles could be protected by the bill because "[d]isability is included. They have a mental disability." However, pedophilia is not considered a “disability” under current federal law. Indeed, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), specifically excludes pedophilia, thereby precluding protection for pedophiles from the hate crimes bill. Additionally, on May 6, America's Newsroom co-host Megyn Kelly joined other Fox hosts in advancing the false claim that Democrats “vote[d] to protect” pedophiles by voting against an amendment to the hate crimes bill by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) stating that “the term 'sexual orientation' shall not include pedophilia.”*

While discussing the Democrats' opposition to King's amendment, O'Reilly suggested that by defining as crimes acts of attempted violence “based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and disabilities,” the underlying bill could protect pedophiles because “a psychiatrist would make an argument ... they have a disease. They can't control themselves.” O'Reilly also stated that “you could make an argument that a pedophile has a disease, and because the disease is there, he's a target or she's a target.” After Fox News contributor Marc Lamont Hill later stated, “when we talk about sexual orientation, you're not talking about ... pedophilia,” O'Reilly replied, “Disability is included. They have a mental disability.”

The only group defined by the hate crimes bill is “gender identity,” which is defined as “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics.” During an April 23 House Judiciary Committee hearing about the bill, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said that the reason “gender identity” is defined in the bill is because “that definition exists nowhere else in federal law. This is the first time it's occurring in federal law.” Referring to the other groups protected by the bill but not defined within it, Baldwin said: “But in every other case, gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, national origin, color, and -- I'm missing one. The architecture of the hate crime statutes in the United States is those definitions do not lay within that architecture. They exist elsewhere in federal law, and we rely on them.”

Indeed, the current version of the ADA defines the term “disability” as, “with respect to an individual”:

(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life

activities of such individual;

(B) a record of such an impairment; or

(C) being regarded as having such an impairment

But contrary to O'Reilly's claim that pedophiles could be covered under the hate crimes bill because "[t]hey have a mental disability," the ADA also specifically states: “the term 'disability' shall not include ... pedophilia.”

Additionally, on America's Newsroom, teasing an interview with King, Kelly claimed that “the Democrats on this committee voted -- essentially, the charge is -- to protect pedophiles. ... Is that true? The author of the amendment, the man who tried to block the protection for pedophiles, joins us now.” During her interview with King, Kelly repeated the false charge, saying: “You thought it would be a good idea to make sure -- since they're adding sexual orientation to the bill -- to make sure that pedophilia doesn't get swept up into a special protection. That people who commit sex crimes against children don't get special protection as 'hate crime' victims if somebody does something to them -- and every Democrat voted it down?”

However, Democrats did not “vote to protect pedophiles” by voting down King's amendment to define “sexual orientation” because pedophiles are not protected by the bill. As Baldwin noted in her statement opposing King's amendment during the April 23 hearing, the term “sexual orientation” is already defined by the Hate Crimes Statistics Act as “consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality,” thereby excluding pedophiles, who engage in nonconsensual sexual relationships with children. In providing her reasons for opposing King's amendment, Baldwin said that it “is unnecessary and, I would add, inflammatory in terms of insinuations.”

On-screen text featured during the segment echoed Kelly's false claims, asserting as fact that Democrats “Vote[d] to Protect Pedophiles.”

Other on-screen text featured during the interview advanced the false claim that the bill “Does Not Define 'Sexual Orientation.' ”

From the May 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Next on the rundown, new hate crime legislation could possibly say yes to protecting pedophiles but no to protecting military people.


O'REILLY: “Impact” segment tonight: New hate crimes legislation is being considered, but wait until you hear what's in it. The House has passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, expanding federal charges to cover offenses against victims based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and disabilities. However, there is debate over whether the legislation protects pedophiles.

KING [video clip]: What it does do is say it doesn't include pedophiles, because I think the intent of this committee is clearly that we don't want to provide a -- let's just say a special protected status for pedophiles.

BALDWIN [video clip]: There is a clear, concise definition of sexual orientation. Your amendment is unnecessary and also, I would add, inflammatory in terms of insinuation.

O'REILLY: Wow -- that means Congresswoman Baldwin doesn't want the law to automatically eliminate pedophile protection. At the same time, Congressman Tom Rooney, a Republican, wanted to include crimes against military people in the bill. That has angered some Democrats.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ (D-FL) [video clip]: I represent a very large, one of the largest gay populations in the United States of America, one of the largest Jewish populations in the United States of America. My region, our region has a very large African-American population. All groups who are real victims of targeted hate crimes. It really is belittling of the respect that we should have for these groups to suggest that members of the Armed Services have somehow systematically been the victims of hate crimes.

O'REILLY: Whoa. With us now, Fox News analyst Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. So there's all kinds of politicking going on here.

HILL: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Rooney laid -- by throwing the military people in there, he laid a trap for Ms. Wasserman-Schultz that she fell right into. And I should tell the audience, this has not passed yet. It's in the Senate now. They're deliberating. And I expect a lot of the nonsense to be sorted out there. Let's start with hate crimes legislation because a lot of people don't really know why that's necessary.

HILL: All right. It's absolutely necessary. We need to provide a protected status for people who have historically and currently been the victims of abuse and marginalization, you know, because of who they are, whether it's because you're Jewish, whether it's because you're gay, whether it's because you're disabled. And so we need to have a heightened type of penalty for those people because there's a heightened type of outcome for them and for the larger society.

O'REILLY: All right, but in certain areas of the country, certain groups are in -- are at risk. And so if you exclude them -- you know, if you are, for example, a Muslim in a certain part of the country, you're at risk because you're a Muslim, right?

HILL: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: If you're a white guy living in the middle of South Central, you might be at risk, correct?

HILL: Absolutely. Race is included.

O'REILLY: OK, but -- you're not covered.

HILL: No, race -- people -- if you are a victim of a crime because of your race, and it happens to be white, then you would be covered. The problem here, though, is that his -- mostly -- usually that doesn't happen. And so typically, that's not what makes the news.

O'REILLY: Well, you wouldn't be covered. If I moved into South Central and then I got hurt or my family got hurt, I wouldn't be covered by federal legislation. I wouldn't be covered.

HILL: Not necessarily. No more than if I move into the Hamptons and I got robbed.

O'REILLY: It would be a local beef, not a federal beef.

HILL: The question becomes if race is the predicate for the act.

O'REILLY: But it would be if I lived in South Central -- you could make a case.

HILL: You could make a case for anything. But the question is, if I could prove, by preponderance of the evidence or overwhelmingly, that you were the victim because of race, then I would be all for that.

O'REILLY: How about if was the victim because I'm a big-mouth talk show guy?

HILL: Oh, absolutely not. You guys -- you guys got it great. You guys aren't marginalized.

O'REILLY: No protection for me. All right, now look, I understand the military shouldn't be included in the bill. Number one, they can take care of themselves --

HILL: Thank you.

O'REILLY: -- and most people -- no, but if the military people go to San Francisco or someplace like that where there's hostility, they could be assaulted because of it. It's happened before. But I understand that this is to protect the defenseless. The defenseless, OK? Pedophiles? Pedophiles?

HILL: Nobody wants to protect pedophiles.

O'REILLY: That woman said, “I do not want pedophiles written into this bill because it's insulting.”

HILL: Right.

O'REILLY: That congressperson said it. Big mistake.

HILL: It politically was a mistake in terms of the way she worded it.

O'REILLY: Right, that's awful.

HILL: No disagreement, just like with the veterans thing. But fundamentally, the idea that pedophiles should be lumped in with gay and lesbian people is insulting to them -- gay and lesbian community.

O'REILLY: Well, a psychiatrist would make an argument, and I've heard it made many times on this program -- they have a disease. They can't control themselves. And, you know -- and after they get convicted, they're at risk because people know they're offenders, and they are more likely to get beaten up. So you've got to protect them.

HILL: Well, first of all, the idea that homosexuality is a mental or psychological disorder has been sort of taken out of the psychological community mainstream since the 1970s.

O'REILLY: No, but I'm not talking about homosexuality. And you just made a politically correct mistake, because child molesters and offenders aren't homosexual.


O'REILLY: They're all across the board. And I know you didn't do it on purpose, so we're not going to hold it against you. But my point is that you could make an argument that a pedophile has a disease, and because the disease is there, he's a target or she's a target.

HILL: Right. Well, first of all, I was heading off the inevitable conservative argument, that homosexuality is a --

O'REILLY: No, I [inaudible] --

HILL: No, no, no, I wouldn't say you're doing that.

O'REILLY: That's bogus.

HILL: But I'm saying that's where they're going with it -- no, that's where they're going to with it, Bill.

O'REILLY: There is no they.

HILL: No, absolutely --

O'REILLY: There are just as many fair-minded conservatives as fair-minded liberals.

HILL: But anybody who lumps homosexuality with pedophilia is not being fair-minded --

O'REILLY: You just did it.

HILL: No, I was responding to what the Republicans are doing, and particularly in the House --

O'REILLY: I saved you. Why are you digging yourself --

HILL: No, no , this is -- this is the no-spin zone, Bill.

O'REILLY: Do you have a shovel for the doctor?

HILL: This is a no-spin zone.

O'REILLY: You're digging yourself deeper.

HILL: No, I'm being honest here. I'm being honest here.

O'REILLY: All right, straight question.

HILL: Yeah.

O'REILLY: Pedophiles should not be included in this bill, correct?

HILL: They should not be included, but they don't need to be.

O'REILLY: Why don't they need to be? They're at risk.

HILL: Because when we talk about sexual orientation, you're not talking about ped -- you're not talking about pedophilia.

O'REILLY: Disability is included. They have a mental disability.

HILL: That's a highly contested argument. But it's clear that no one on neither on either side of the aisle thinks that pedophiles should be a protected class.

O'REILLY: That woman then --

HILL: She does not think they should be a protected class.

O'REILLY: She was just being what?

HILL: She was playing a political game --


HILL: -- the same way a person playing a political game to put them in the bill in the first place. Because they knew we'd be having the conversation, riling up conservatives, who do think that homosexuality and pedophilia should be lumped in together. Not all conservatives, but the people who oppose this.

From the May 6 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

KELLY: Well, the conservative bloggers this morning are saying that the Democrats' big hate crimes bill has taken a stunning turn. House Republicans reportedly tried to strip language from the bill -- well, it's not reportedly, they did. They tried to strip language from the bill that would have blocked pedophiles from getting special protections. In other words, the Republicans said, let's make sure that when we define hate crimes, we don't get pedophiles in there as well so that they get special protections. All of the Democrats voted against it. They blocked that effort.

On the same day, the same committee slapped down special protections for American veterans. So, the Democrats on this committee voted -- essentially, the charge is -- to protect pedophiles, but not veterans. Is that true?

The author of the amendment, the man who tried to block the protection for pedophiles, joins us now. His name is Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa. Congressman, good morning to you.

KING: Good morning, Megyn.

KELLY: All right, so let's just make sure we understand what happened. They're passing a hate crimes bill to provide special protections to certain groups, including gays and lesbians, and racial minorities, and so on. You thought it would be a good idea to make sure -- since they're adding sexual orientation to that bill -- to make sure that pedophilia doesn't get swept up into a special protection. That people who commit sex crimes against children don't get special protection as “hate crime” victims if somebody does something to them -- and every Democrat voted it down?

KING: They did, Megyn. And this is within the context of the language that's in the bill to extend a special protective status for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender. The definition for sexual orientation was defined by one of the principal authors, Tammy Baldwin of Madison, Wisconsin, as being either heterosexual or homosexual. Well, so, within that definition, though, of sexual orientation by the American Psychological Association, you've got a whole list of proclivities -- they call them paraphilias -- and in that list, among them, are pedophiles.

And so, I don't want special protective status for a pedophile, when a regular person would get lesser protection under this law. They voted it down completely, and, without, I don't think, a rational explanation as to why, but if they would have voted to exempt pedophiles from special protection, then they knew they would've been faced with the argument of what about all of the other proclivities that are listed in there. And I think that's the rationale.

And, by the way, this sets up sacred cows in this legislation, so some people are protected more than others in this society.

KELLY: OK, but Tammy Baldwin, who you just mentioned, she came out and said, “Look, the reason we don't need this amendment to exclude pedophiles is they're already excluded. They're not covered by this legislation.” And the reason she said they weren't covered is because she says this bill speaks to sexual orientation -- be it heterosexual or homosexual -- that is consensual, and pedophilia would not fall within that definition. So, she thought you were basically grandstanding. And she also said she doesn't want pedophiles to be protected but she thinks they're not, and so the amendment was not necessary.

How do you respond to that?

KING: Well, Megyn, first of all, I wouldn't -- I don't agree that it's always consensual when it comes to pedophiles, and neither is it always consensual when you look at all of the other proclivities or paraphilias that are in that list. But pedophile may or may not be consensual, but, regardless, when you set up pedophiles and protect them -- I'd go to the floor debate. Also, Alcee Hastings, the second-most senior member on the rules committee, read through a list of 30 different paraphilias, and he said, “I think all philias whatsoever are protected under this law.” I raised the issue again --

KELLY: Oh, so, he says he does think that they're protected?

KING: Indeed, and they are -- and the list of sexual orientation with the American Psychological Association is 547 different proclivities' long. So, yes, I think this legislation does. And I think Tammy Baldwin's wrong, and, actually, I think she knows it.

KELLY: Well, that's incredible -- that if you've got senior Democrats on the committee saying, outwardly, and leaving, at least, at a minimum, a question mark about whether pedophi- -- pedophil -- pedophiles, excuse me, are protected under this act, we got a problem, because then we're -- now we're -- are we not at a point where -- when somebody -- no one wants to see violence against any criminal or anybody else -- but if somebody attacks a pedophile, if some father, who's the father of a child who was molested, goes and beats up a pedophile, that father is now going to get arrested on a hate crime charge because of this ambiguity?

KING: Megyn, I think you're right. In fact, I would take it back to a fairly notorious case in California, a little over 10 years ago, and it was the case of Ellie Nesler, who actually shot the perpetrator who had raped her son, in the courtroom. She received a 10-year sentence for manslaughter and served four years of that.

If the federal government decided that wasn't adequate, they could come in and bring their own federal hate crimes charges against her, and she could be serving life in a federal penitentiary today under this legislation --

KELLY: All right, I want to get --

KING: -- special protection for pedophiles.

KELLY: I want to get to two more quick points but we're coming up against a break, so I -- we gotta go through them quickly. Number one: What can people do to shut this down? It's -- it has not passed yet in the Senate.

KING: They need to call the Senate. They need to especially call the senators on the judiciary committee in the United States Senate, give them a personal experience so that they know this isn't just an email that they can -- they can either delete or automatically respond to. And when that happens -- when they understand America is outraged, you can bring about results in the United State Senate. It was proven under immigration; it needs to be proven here under hate crimes.

KELLY: And number two: I want to get you to weigh in really quickly on the denial -- the Democrats' denial to provide special protection for our veterans. Now the argument is you only provide special protection for groups that have been discriminated against consistently, pervasively, for years, and while there have been some unfortunate incidents against veterans, it doesn't rise to that level -- your response to that.

KING: Well, that was the argument of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz from Florida, but in the same committee, we have Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who has, in the military, been spit upon back in the '70s. And we have a case in 2004 where there was a wounded Purple Heart veteran in Ohio who was attacked at a concert, a Toby Keith concert, who was wearing a shirt, Operation Iraqi Freedom, for the sake that he was a veteran and he was proud of what he had done.

So this does happen, and when you say that pedophiles should be protected, but our veterans coming home should not -- do not deserve that same level of protection, I think that tells you where the Democrats are in the United States House of Representatives today, Megyn.

KELLY: Wow. Well, Congressmen Steve King, we thank you for coming on. I want to tell our viewers that we invited Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and several Democrats to come on and explain why they did this, we got a no from all of them so far, but we're going to keep trying.

This item originally stated that the proposed Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act “defines as a crime acts of attempted violence 'motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim.' ” However, that quote did not come from the section of the bill that defined new federal crimes. The item has been updated to match the relevant definition of a new federal crime in the bill. In addition, the first sentence of the second paragraph originally quoted incorrectly from the act. It has been changed to quote O'Reilly's description of the legislation. Media Matters for America regrets the error.