As expected, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is continuing his smear campaign against Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D), who is openly gay, because of his opposition to instituting “Jessica’s Law,” which imposes excessive mandatory sentences for first-time offenders of child molesters. As ThinkProgress reported this weekend, Colorado already has harsh sentencing for sex offenders and nobody — not even the law enforcement community or victims’ advocates groups — supports changing the laws. But that hasn’t stopped O’Reilly from pursuing his campaign against Ferrandino, who he plans to hold “personally responsible” for the bill’s defeat and for “protecting” perpetrators.
Last night, O’Reilly aired an interview featuring reporter Jesse Watters confronting Ferrandino on the street while he was walking his dog, accusing him of “not protecting the kids from sexual predators.” Ferrandino barely had an opportunity to speak as Watters launched a barrage of various cases in which molesters supposedly did not receive tough enough sentences:
WATTERS: You’re not protecting the kids from sexual predators in passing Jessica’s law. Why is that?
FERRANDINO: Well, no DA’s. The DA has actually opposed Jessica’s law. So have victim rights groups in Colorado. In 2009, the DA has come out in opposition to the bill. They haven’t supported it still. We have very strong laws.
WATTERS: You actually don’t have strong laws because let me give you a few examples. 800 times a guy just sexually assaulted a seventh grader and just got one year of work release. Ok? Another guy.
FERRANDINO: I can’t speak —
WATTERS: Another guy molested —
FERRANDINO: Excuse me.
Before the exchange abruptly ended, Ferrandino managed to explain that Colorado’s laws “are tougher than Jessica’s laws” and that “we know what’s in Colorado’s best interest,” but Watters was not particularly interested in letting him make his case. If he ever did, it didn’t make it into the clip O’Reilly aired. In the discussion afterward, O’Reilly once again described Ferrandino as “a big gay marriage guy… big marijuana legalizer.” Watch it:
It’s hard to justify anything about this “campaign” of O’Reilly’s as journalism. It seems increasingly apparent that he is simply manipulating the fact that Ferrandino is gay to prey on viewers’ fears that the Speaker is thus somehow more likely to be endangering children.