O’Reilly Channels McCarthy

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline finally obtained private medical records from Kansas abortion clinics last week, though months ago the Kansas Supreme Court made efforts to protect people's medical privacy by limiting the scope of information. Someone else had been seeking them too, Fox News' own Bill O'Reilly, who said on his program Friday that he had been seeking these records for months and months, and finally got them, from an "inside source."

According to John Hanna of the Associated Press in Topeka, Kansas, a spokesperson for the Attorney General said they assumed the "inside source" for the O'Reilly Factor must have been inside the clinic. But if the O'Reilly Factor's source was "inside the abortion clinic" why would the news of those records not have been televised before this?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that Kline's efforts to obtain private medical records, allegedly to pursue criminal cases against rapists, has resulted in those records being obtained by a cable network news anchor to air just days before an election. Coincidence? According to the AP, the records do not contain names of patients, so they could not be used for any criminal investigation. The clinics have asked for further investigation into Kline and O'Reilly's use of these private medical records.

The façade that Phill Kline sought these records to investigate child rapists has been shattered by his coincidental appearance on the O'Reilly Factor to discuss them. Most attorneys in the midst of criminal prosecutions don't make a national cable news program their first stop when they have new evidence. But the evidence that Phill Kline has been more interested in practicing politics than law is also witnessed by his organizing of campaign stops in churches, as an inter-office memo to State Employees indicates he was doing, in violation of several campaign laws. The Center for Responsible Ethics in Washington is investigating.

Bill O'Reilly's façade has long been shattered, but in this "interview" he screams several points over and over, as though speaking louder makes his position correct. He claims "incontrovertible evidence" of women getting abortions "because they are depressed" and of clinics withholding "names of rapists."

But O'Reilly, like a modern-day Joe McCarthy, did not cite the evidence he claimed to have, nor would he respond to reporters or put any actual "evidence" up on the television for people to see. Instead, he just screamed about having it, louder and louder, until during one very telling moment when his guest, Amy Richards co-founder of the Third Way Foundation, talked about how difficult it is to pursue and convict rape cases in this country. In that moment, Bill O'Reilly may have let a little honesty slip out, "I don't know what you are talking about."


Abortion is a difficult and sensitive private medical issue. It has been complicated for decades by people, like O'Reilly talking about it from a narrow ideological viewpoint that has no basis in understanding of women's issues, health issues, or anything other than trying to push hot button political issues.

What Ms. Richards was talking about was that to prove rape in most states requires a rape kit test within 24-48 hours, and clearing other legal hoops and hurdles. Think about the 10-15 year old girls that O'Reilly talked about – if they could talk to anyone in their families about what had happened to them, it probably didn't happen soon enough because of the shame, intimidation and fear a child having been raped would experience. If it was a family member who was the rapist, others in the family may have been complicit not wanting to go to authorities with what they perceived to be a difficult family matter. Abuse, physical, sexual or mental, is awful and is why parental notification laws and the use of terms like "partial birth abortion" might make for great far right politics and sensational talk show shouting matches, but do nothing to address problems of rape, violence, abuse, unintended pregnancy and women's health and rights.

O'Reilly and Kline do not care about the health of women and girls, they care about scoring political points and sensationalizing issues. Kline dressed up his invasion of medical privacy in the very best political spin he could, but at its heart, as with many social conservatives, it's all about politics, to the dismay of many principled people on both sides who could work together to help women and girls if the politicians and media would get out of the way.

On the subject of depression, a serious mental health condition sometimes with accompanying physical symptoms, O'Reilly tried his best to make it sound like women were "just having a bad day" and decided to get an abortion, and that Dr. Tiller, the provider in question in Kansas, had "perhaps killed thousands and thousands" simply because a woman was depressed. More channeling of Joe McCarthy by O'Reilly.

On those, and many other issues, Bill O'Reilly and the social conservative base he panders to for ratings and book sales, simply do not know what they are talking about. People of principle differ on these issues, yes, but these histrionics are what prevents real progress on reducing unintended pregnancies. Private health care decisions should not be decided in legislatures or on television talk shows, but should be the private decisions of the people involved in consultation with medically trained professionals. Those decisions should be private and made in keeping with the individual beliefs, values, experience and knowledge of the parties involved.

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  • mike-swenson

    As I write this, we are about 24 or so hours away from Phil Kline being a lame duck in Kansas. In fact, for the all the heat Kansas has taken in the past couple of years because of Kline and our state School Board, times are definitely changing.

    Kansas may become the precursor of the way things are to be – independent thinking Republicans joining Democrats to regain control of the policies of this state – and then the nation. As a fourth generation Kansan and father of two fifth generation Kansans, Tuesday should be a day to mark on the calendar as a day that a step in the right direction was taken.