While discussing the Secret Service prostitution scandal, Bill O'Reilly said he sympathized with police officers who don't view sex workers as people with legitimate human rights. Talking to sex workers' rights advocate Sienna Baskin, O'Reilly stated that he understood police who "don't put a top priority on ladies who are engaged in prostitution because it is a crime," and added:
O'REILLY: It's like a drug dealer saying I got ripped off, you know. And they're going to say, "that's too bad, don't deal drugs." It's the same thing -- theoretically, from the police's point of view.
Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York, was criticizing the "criminalization system" in the United States, which often makes sex workers "afraid to go to the police when they are themselves victims of crime." She called for legalizing prostitution as a way to reduce crimes against sex workers.
While O'Reilly agreed that there "would be harm reduction" with legalization, he also said that his "beef" with "legalizing prostitution is basically the same thing about legalizing marijuana -- that it sends a message that this is OK. And I know you represent some of these ladies, but I think that selling your body is -- diminishes a human being. It diminishes that person. And it -- and it does harm to them." He continued:
O'REILLY: In my reporting over 35 years, I've seen that almost 100 percent of the time in this industry, and I'm sure you have, too. Do you really want to say it's OK to do this? And that's what you would be doing by legalizing it.
O'Reilly later stated that the "message to society is, hey, look, if you want to be a hooker, go ahead. And we, the society, there's nothing wrong with it -- but there is. There is something wrong with it." He went on to ask: "Why do they have to sell their bodies to make a living? Why can't they get a legitimate job like 99 percent of the population?" O'Reilly concluded: "You can wait tables and drive a cab anytime you want in this city."