O'Reilly and Dobson repeated falsehoods about Boulder High panel, implied Ritter was a "coward"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On the June 1 broadcast of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson baselessly asserted that parents in Boulder "are not upset about" a controversial panel discussion held at a public high school there in April, echoing falsehoods that host Bill O'Reilly made on previous broadcasts. O'Reilly and Dobson also suggested that Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter was a "coward" for not speaking out on the controversy.

Discussing a Conference of World Affairs (CWA) panel discussion on sex, teens, and drugs held April 10 at Boulder High School, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson implied on the June 1 broadcast of The O'Reilly Factor that Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) was a "coward" because he has not addressed the controversy. O'Reilly stated that Ritter is "basically sittin' it out" and that "we have more cowards now than ever before in this country in elected office." Dobson added that Ritter was "runnin' for the tall grass."

As Colorado Media Matters noted, O'Reilly on his program has made several baseless assertions regarding the discussion, "STDs: Sex, Teens, and Drugs," including the claim on his May 29 show that "there has been no public outcry in Boulder over the controversy." Dobson echoed O'Reilly's comments on June 1, saying, "[U]ltimately it comes down to parents, which is the most discouraging aspect of this: that the parents in Boulder apparently are not upset about it." O'Reilly responded to Dobson's suggestion that parents "ought to go after the school boards" by saying, "It's not gonna happen in Boulder because Boulder's an extreme community." He added, "Now, the governor of Colorado, Ritter, basically sittin' it out. Basically saying, 'Hey, I don't really care about this.' 'Cause we've called him and called him and called him."

Contrary to Dobson's and O'Reilly's suggestions that parents in Boulder "are not upset" about the panel, 630 KHOW-AM co-host Dan Caplis said in a guest appearance on O'Reilly's May 18 show that "a lot of parents at Boulder High" had been calling in to Caplis' radio show to "say they're not going to stand for this," as Colorado Media Matters has noted.

From the June 1 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, continues to stay silent on the subject but anger is growing as those Boulder High officials are unrepentant and even say they'll bring the same loons back again next year. Joining us now from Colorado Springs, Dr. James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family. Doctor, in, in many communities, and I hope most, this couldn't happen. Those school officials would have been fired immediately by bringing -- for bringing those people in and saying those things in front of the kids. But in Boulder it seems to be business as usual. Are you surprised?

DOBSON: I, I'm shocked and I'm angry. At this stage of my life very little that happens really makes me angry, but this is outrageous, and I just cannot believe what took place. I do, however, believe that this is where the safe-sex industry wants to take America's kids, and if they get away with it here, it will be other places.

[...]

O'REILLY: But what, what I'm, what I'm not getting here is you live in Colorado. And Colorado's not San Francisco. And I'm not getting why there isn't outrage throughout the entire state.

DOBSON: I don't understand that either and especially by the parents whose kids were subjected to this.

[...]

O'REILLY: Is there anything else, though, that you can do, your organization can do, to mobilize people? Because, I think this is so bad and so over the top, and this is sending a message to the whole country that, look, it's out in the open now. Secular progressives are going to basically tell children to use drugs, to have indiscriminate sex, do what you want when you're 14 years old, never mind what your parents think. And I think this is -- becomes a culture war battle, front and center, for the entire country. So what can your organization do?

DOBSON: Well, we can do what we can do, Bill. But ultimately it comes down to parents, which is the most discouraging aspect of this: that the parents in Boulder apparently are not upset about it. But if parents begin to understand what took place there, if not in Boulder then in other places, they can bring pressure --

O'REILLY: Oh, sure.

DOBSON: -- to bear.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

DOBSON: And they ought to go after the school boards. I mean, that's what ought to happen --

O'REILLY: It's not gonna happen in Boulder because Boulder's an extreme community. I, I think it would happen in most other communities in the country. Where I live on Long Island, for example, if that happened in the public schools there would be a huge outcry. There would be parents picketing the school, demanding these people resign. And Long Island's not a conservative area. But because of this, of the, of the blatantness of this. Now, the governor of Colorado, Ritter, basically sittin' it out. Basically saying, "Hey, I don't really care about this." 'Cause we've called him and called him and called him.

DOBSON: Well, you know, governors are elected officials and so are school boards. And even in Boulder, I don't think that they want the whole country mad at them. I don't think they want to be the laughingstock or the source of anger for people, for reasonable parents who are trying to teach morality and decency and values to their kids. To hold them up as an example of what not to do. And I think people ought to let that, that high school know and that school district know.

O'REILLY: I think they should --

DOBSON: It does make a difference.

O'REILLY: -- let the governor of Colorado know, too.

DOBSON: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: I mean, the state, the state pays for the school.

DOBSON: He's going to have to stand for re-election some day and this will be a smudge on his record. He's trying to remain --

O'REILLY: He oughtta go on -- he oughtta say something. You know, it just seems, Doctor -- and I, I think you agree with me here -- we have more cowards now than ever before in this country in elected office. I mean, these people --

DOBSON: Yeah, he's runnin' for the tall grass.

O'REILLY: You bet.

DOBSON: That's what's happening.

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