Fox News host Bill O'Reilly backtracked in his attempt to link a gay Colorado lawmaker's opposition to a measure affecting sexual predators who target children with that lawmaker's sexuality after criticism from a Colorado newspaper editorial writer.
Over the last several weeks, O'Reilly has used his national platform to attack openly gay Colorado lawmaker Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-2) over his opposition to "Jessica's Law," a measure that would impose a 25-year sentence on those found guilty of sexually assaulting children.
In a March 10 column, The Denver Post's editorial page editor Curtis Hubbard condemned O'Reilly for repeatedly citing Ferrandino's sexual orientation in his attacks, writing:
O'Reilly's fear-mongering should offend all Coloradans. He was saying "gay," but what he wanted his listeners to hear was "pervert-pedophile."
Disagree? Then you try explaining what Ferrandino's sexual orientation and stance on civil unions has to do with Jessica's Law.
During the March 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly responded to Hubbard's criticism, insisting that he was merely attempting to provide "context" for his criticism:
O'REILLY: We described the speaker as "openly gay" because Americans don't know who he is and that description is used in almost every article ever written about him. And the reason we brought up civil unions is because Ferrandino objected to that vote being sabotaged by Republicans a few years ago, then he turned around and used the same technique to table Jessica's Law.
The reason that I did that was to put into perspective who he is. People don't know who this guy is, he's not like Joe Biden. They don't know this guy is. So I had to tell people, 'look, this is what this guy's interested in. This is what he promotes.'
O'Reilly's explanation, that he was simply providing background information about Ferrandino for his audience, is a stretch.
In segment after segment, O'Reilly found it necessary to highlight Ferrandino's sexuality and support for marriage equality while discussing his opposition to Jessica's Law. O'Reilly even cited Ferrandino's support for marriage equality as evidence that he was attempting to "impose a secular paradise" in Colorado -- implying that lax penalties for child molesters would also be part of Ferrandino's "paradise." Ferrandino's sexual orientation was the only personal detail about the lawmaker that O'Reilly found relevant enough to share with his audience.
This type of attack is typical for O'Reilly. His record on promoting the myth that gay men are more likely to engage in pedophilia than heterosexual men is murky at best. If he's intent on continuing his crusade against Ferrandino, O'Reilly will need to come up with a better excuse for dragging the lawmaker's sexual orientation into the debate.