O'Reilly misrepresented five editorials to accuse "left-wing print media" of having no solutions to immigration woesApril 3, 2006 2:59 PM EDT ››› JULIE MILLICAN
Accusing the "left-wing print media" of not having "any solution at all" to the problem of illegal immigration, during the March 29 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly distorted editorials on immigration reform proposals in five major newspapers: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, and the Los Angeles Times.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
O'Reilly began by attacking the Journal-Constitution, calling the paper "whacked out," and "[t]he most liberal newspaper ... in the South." After reading selected quotes from the Journal-Constitution's March 26 editorial, "Get Real About Illegal Immigration," O'Reilly concluded that the "[b]ottom line" is that "they want outright legalization." In fact, while the editorial suggested a preference for "a clear route to attaining legal status for most of the illegal immigrants already here," the editorial board advocated guest worker programs, without mentioning a path to citizenship, and strict penalties on companies that hire illegal workers, two positions O'Reilly himself professes to support. Yet, by not mentioning the editorial's other proposals, O'Reilly suggested the Journal-Constitution only supported legalizing the illegal immigrants in this country, and told his listeners: "[Y]ou think that I'm unfair? I'm just reporting what the truth is. You guys down in Atlanta and the South, I mean, this paper does not reflect your values and is not looking out for you."
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial:
The easy part of immigration reform is already widely supported in both the Senate and the House: hire more border patrol agents, employ more high-tech surveillance equipment, demand better cooperation from the government of Mexico. But comprehensive reform also demands:
- An expanded guest-worker program -- preferably one that provides a clear route to attaining legal status for most of the illegal immigrants already here. Two separate Senate proposals offer slightly different guest-worker proposals.
- Workplace enforcement, including increasing the fines -- and in some cases, ordering jail sentences -- for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Many politicians know but rarely admit that American business relies on illegal immigrant labor, and industry lobbyists don't want more workplace enforcement. But it need not be burdensome for business or costly for taxpayers. The federal government needs to expand its Basic Pilot program to provide all employers a quick, easily accessible and accurate way of checking a worker's legal status.
- The Boston Globe
O'Reilly then attacked a March 29 Boston Globe editorial, claiming the editorial board is "merciless," and doesn't "have any solution" to the immigration problem. In fact, the Globe editorial O'Reilly referenced expressed support for the immigration bill that was recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill reportedly would add new agents to the Border Patrol, enhance technological surveillance along the borders, authorize "temporary work visas" and a guest worker program, and let illegal immigrants apply for citizenship after working in the country for six years, provided several requirements are met. The Globe editorial stated:
The Judiciary Committee bill can work. It would give illegal immigrants a way to work legally and to make amends by paying fines. It would protect the economy. And it would enhance national safety by increasing the ranks of law enforcement and by expediting deportations. Rational, safe change has been championed by people in rallies across the country, including one in Boston on Monday night. The full Senate and the House should heed these cries for fairness.
- The Dallas Morning News
O'Reilly then discussed an editorial in The Dallas Morning News, declaring that after reading the editorial, "I have no idea ... where they stand" on immigration reform. O'Reilly was referring to a March 28 editorial -- titled "Stand Up, Stand Down: Will Immigration Protests Yield Desired Fruit?" -- that focused on the recent nationwide protests and student walkouts opposing a House bill that would criminalize illegal immigrants, and, critics argue, even providing humanitarian assistance to illegal immigrants. The Dallas Morning News editorial O'Reilly highlighted did not focus on currently debated immigration reform proposals. But, if O'Reilly had read the Dallas Morning News editorial from March 26, he would have known where the newspaper stood on immigration reform. In that editorial, the Morning News editorial board detailed five reasons why it supports the immigration proposal approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Among other reasons, the editorial argued the Senate Judiciary bill would "[d]raw illegal immigrants out of the shadows," would "help law enforcement," and would "keep the economy stable." The editorial concluded:
For these reasons, we believe the Senate Judiciary Committee is heading in the right direction, and we're not alone. This is our best opportunity to simultaneously build border security and keep the economy humming.
- The Denver Post
O'Reilly also attacked The Denver Post as being "off-the-chart left" and for "wanting amnesty" for illegal immigrants already in the country. But the March 27 Denver Post editorial O'Reilly highlighted said no such thing. The Post noted that "any provision legalizing the status of workers here illegally" was "[c]onspicuously missing" from the House bill. The editorial did not directly address the issue of citizenship, but it did state the editorial board's support for a "provision legalizing the status of workers here illegally," such as a temporary guest worker program with no path to citizenship, which President Bush has proposed.
From The Denver Post:
But Republicans are split on the subject. Some business interests rely on cheap labor and so they're backing the president. Social conservatives are opposed to rewarding illegal immigrants with anything that resembles amnesty, as does a guest-worker approach.
Last December, the House passed a bill that's long on punishment but short on thoughtful solutions. It would beef up border security with 700 miles of fence and more border patrol agents and force employers to verify the legal status of workers. Conspicuously missing is any provision legalizing the status of workers here illegally.
- Los Angeles Times
Finally, O'Reilly claimed that the Los Angeles Times editorial board also "want[s] amnesty" for illegal immigrants. While criticizing the Times for allegedly supporting amnesty, O'Reilly informed his listeners that he "do[esn't] consider an 11-year process amnesty. I want everybody to know that." But the "amnesty" bill the Times supported was, again, the Senate Judiciary bill, which, according to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), one of the main authors of the bill, would require the very 11-year path to citizenship that O'Reilly distinguished from "amnesty." As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Kennedy argued his plan would not grant "amnesty," saying, "Every individual is going to pay a penalty and go to the back of the line and have to earn their way through and take 11 years to become a citizen." From the March 26 Times editorial:
The Specter compromise is a practical, fair and sensible approach to immigration, making it very different from the reflexive xenophobia we've come to expect from this session of Congress. It focuses both on tightening border security and creating a program that allows the millions of people already in the country illegally to obtain guest-worker permits.
The bill does not give a free pass to illegal immigrants. Employers would have to demonstrate that U.S. workers wouldn't take the position offered to the guest worker. Once the visa has expired, probably after six years, the workers could apply for U.S. citizenship, but their applications would be processed after those of legal immigrants waiting in line, and they would have to pay hefty fines. Thus, contrary to the accusations of opponents, the law would by no means reward people who came to this country illegally, nor is it unfair to those who played by the rules.
But the Senate as an institution has an opportunity, and an obligation, to rise above Washington's preelection silly season and pass immigration legislation that reflects the country's real needs, not its baser instincts.
Concluding the segment, O'Reilly falsely accused the newspapers of not "call[ing] for strict measures to stop people from coming in here." In fact, either by supporting the Senate Judiciary bill -- which calls for heightened border security -- or otherwise, most of the editorials O'Reilly highlighted advocated for some measure of increasing border security.
From the March 29 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Now the newspapers -- and this is why the newspaper industry is dying in the United States -- it's dying, and I say, "Good. Good. Let it die. And then maybe it'll rise up again and be responsible." The most outrageous is no surprise, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The most liberal newspaper, probably, in the South. Now The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is hemorrhaging readers. I know there's going to be big changes down there soon, because they're losing all kinds of money. And it's because they're whacked out. They say, quote, and they're editorializing, "The House has already given its answer to the problem of illegal immigration -- spend more money on border security and demand illegal workers already here go home." OK? They don't like that. "The House has also threatened social and religious organizations that work with illegal immigrants, fines and criminal charges." That's not true. That's not true. Bottom line on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, quote: "Get real about illegal workers -- don't just beef up border security. Legalize legions of labor on which the economy relies." So they want outright legalization. Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
OK? Now I've been on that paper for years, and you think that I'm unfair? I'm just reporting what the truth is. You guys down in Atlanta and the South, I mean, this paper does not reflect your values and is not looking out for you.
Boston Globe -- another paper, hemorrhaging circulation. Hemorrhaging. Quote: "By advancing sensible legislation on Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee also rebuked the House, whose bill called for merciless and unwise security crackdowns." There you go. OK? Boston Globe don't want any -- they don't have any solution. But it's merciless, merciless to stop people from coming in here. You know what's merciless, Boston Globe? Your editorial page. That's what's merciless.
O'REILLY: Dallas Morning News -- I was very interested to see what they said because one of their Latina columnists attacked me as a racist or something crazy for wanting border security. But they -- I can't make any -- their editorial is entitled "Will Immigration Protest Yield Desired Fruit." Is there any fruit involved in those protests? I didn't see any fruit. Did you guys see any bananas or anything? I don't -- I don't know what this is all about. The Dallas Morning News -- I have no idea. I, I just don't know. I don't know where they stand. I don't know what they want.
But I do know what The Denver Post wants, and that's the other newspaper that had a Latina columnist call me names. Quote, Denver Post: "Last December, the House passed a bill that's long on punishment, but short on thoughtful solutions." OK? "Conspicuously missing is any provision legalizing the status of workers here illegally." Denver Post joins the Atlanta Constitution in wanting amnesty. All right?
Then The Denver Post -- when I lived in Denver -- and that was 25 years ago -- it was a fairly conservative town. Now the Denver Post is off-the-chart left.
O'REILLY: But the L.A. Times whips us back into reality. Quote: "The Senate as an institution has an opportunity and an obligation to rise above Washington's pre-election silly season, pass immigration legislation that reflects the country's real needs, not its baser instincts." They want amnesty. L.A. Times. Flat-out. Now, I don't consider an 11-year process amnesty. I want everybody to know that. I don't consider that amnesty.