Yesterday, after the news broke that George Tiller, a Kansas doctor who administered abortions, had been murdered while attending church, The American Prospect’s Ann Friedman pointed out that Tiller had been the target of “an ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment” by anti-choice activists. The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan and Salon’s Gabriel Winant both quickly noted that one of the most prominent voices in the demonization of Tiller was Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.
According to Winant, O’Reilly first discussed Tiller on Feb. 25, 2005 and followed it up with 28 more episodes that mentioned the doctor. In the past four years, O’Reilly described the doctor as “Tiller the Baby Killer” and “a moral equivalent to NAMBLA and al-Qaida.” “This is the kind of stuff happened in Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union,” said O’Reilly on one show.
Jed Lewison has put together compilation of O’Reilly’s attacks on Tiller over the years. Watch it:
As Winant points out, O’Reilly’s rhetoric against Tiller was most troubling when he said that anyone who didn’t “stop” him would have “blood on their hands“:
This is where it gets most troubling. O’Reilly’s language describing Tiller, and accusing the state and its elites of complicity in his actions, could become extremely vivid. On June 12, 2007, he said, “Yes, I think we all know what this is. And if the state of Kansas doesn’t stop this man, then anybody who prevents that from happening has blood on their hands as the governor does right now, Governor Sebelius.”
Three days later, he added, “No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands. But now so does Governor Sebelius. She is not fit to serve. Nor is any Kansas politician who supports Tiller’s business of destruction. I wouldn’t want to be these people if there is a Judgment Day. I just — you know … Kansas is a great state, but this is a disgrace upon everyone who lives in Kansas. Is it not?“
TVNewser reports that O’Reilly “will give his first public comment on Dr. Tiller’s murder” on his show tonight. As Winant notes, O’Reilly can be expected to condemn the murder and “genuinely mean” it. But will O’Reilly admit that his rhetoric was “sensationally irresponsible?”