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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

O'Reilly smears The Hartford Courant for something they didn't say

This guy is an idiot. Why is he allowed to distort the facts...oh, I orgot. We're talking about FOXNews (fair and balanced).

From Media Matters (including video)
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked a September 12 Hartford Courant editorial that he falsely characterized as opposing mandatory minimum prison sentences for child sex offenders. In fact, the editorial did not take a position on mandatory minimums; rather, it explored proposals for enhancing post-incarceration monitoring of convicted sex offenders' movements. Further, Media Matters for America discovered no evidence that the Courant has endorsed or opposed minimum sentences for child sex offenders.


O'Reilly, however, completely mischaracterized the Courant editorial, which does not even mention mandatory minimum sentences, much less oppose them. From the September 12 Courant editorial, titled "Sexual Abuse Hysteria":

Along with punishment, predators need treatment. Studies show that treatment is effective in helping to reduce recidivism.

Lawmakers must be careful to separate one-time offenders involved in relatively minor incidents from truly serious cases in which there is a strong possibility that the person will strike again. One-size-fits-all legislation unfairly stigmatizes offenders without protecting children. [Sentences quoted by O'Reilly are italicized]

A Nexis search* found no evidence that the Courant has recently taken a position on mandatory minimum prison sentences for child sex offenders. However, in a Dec. 3, 1998 editorial, the paper did say that "[m]uch longer sentences for sexual predators" could be "one answer" to the problem of convicted sex offenders who have served their time but are not ready to return to society.

O'Reilly's reference to the Houston Chronicle alluded to a controversy earlier this year in which, as with the Courant, O'Reilly mischaracterized the content of a newspaper editorial. On the May 10 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, he falsely claimed that a May 10 Chronicle editorial had attacked the mandatory minimum sentences imposed in Florida's "Jessica's Law" as "too harsh." As the Chronicle noted in a May 12 editorial exposing O'Reilly's distortion, "O'Reilly told his viewers that the Chronicle editorial said the Florida law was too harsh. He was mistaken. The editorial excerpts that O'Reilly projected on the screen said nothing about the harshness of the punishment." Subsequently, O'Reilly apologized for misattributing the quotation and admitted that the Chronicle "didn't actually say" that the mandatory sentence stipulated by "Jessica's Law" was "too harsh." However, O'Reilly continued to argue that he was justified in attacking the Chronicle based on "everything that I extrapolated from the editorial."