Last night, Denver Post editorial page editor Curtis Hubbard went on FOX News' O'Reilly Factor, to further discuss his column last weekend blasting host Bill O'Reilly for his repeated and obvious inferences, covered in this space, that Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino's sexual preference played a role in the death of a GOP-sponsored bill this year mandating long prison terms for particular first-time child sex offenders. Hubbard's column Sunday argued that "O'Reilly's fear-mongering should offend all Coloradans. He was saying 'gay,' but what he wanted his listeners to hear was 'pervert-pedophile.'"
As Media Matters for America reports, O'Reilly doesn't like being called out as a hater.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly berated a guest on his show, calling him a "smear merchant" and a "charlatan," for accurately accusing him of attempting to depict a gay Colorado lawmaker as being lenient towards child molesters…
In his March 10 column, Hubbard condemned O'Reilly for repeatedly citing Rep. Ferrandino's sexual orientation while discussing the lawmaker's opposition to Jessica's Law, a measure deemed unnecessary by law enforcement experts and victims' advocates that would impose a 25-year minimum sentence on those found guilty of sexually assaulting children.
O'Reilly's rant turned decidedly nasty as he called Hubbard as a "ridiculous person" and a "smear merchant," and launched into a tirade of personal ad hominem attacks:
O'REILLY: I described Ferrandino to the audience because the audience doesn't know who the heck he is and I did it in the context of what his priorities are. His priorities are civil unions, alright, which you guys are going to have pretty soon out there, and legalizing marijuana, which you already have out there. And he's a gay marriage proponent, as you know. So I said he are Ferrandino's priorities, here's what he spends his time on, alright? And Jessica's Law he doesn't want…
O'REILLY: I didn't impugn his character at all. I said what his priorities are as Speaker of the House. Look, I'm going to post this on BillOReilly.com, the whole thing, so people can see what a charlatan you are. [Pols emphasis]
Beginning with O'Reilly's interview with Colorado Rep. Libby Szabo, the sponsor of the bill in question, it is impossible to deny the clear implication by O'Reilly that Speaker Ferrandino killed "Jessica's Law" in retaliation for the death of the civil unions bill in 2012, and that his sexual preference somehow makes Ferrandino unqualified to "protect the children." O'Reilly went to great lengths to explain Ferrandino's supposed motives, eagerly supported by Rep. Szabo, who accused Speaker Ferrandino of "obviously protecting somebody" by killing the bill. There's absolutely no mistaking the impression O'Reilly wanted to leave with his viewers.
Bottom line: Curtis Hubbard didn't take on one of America's biggest conservative media icons out of partisan spite. He did it because Bill O'Reilly crossed a line, and made allegations against Colorado's Speaker of the House that have no place in civil debate about these issues. The fact that nobody considers O'Reilly an unbiased source of information is beside the point. Such a contemptibly low blow cannot go unchallenged, and we wish there were more Republicans standing up to condemn these smears–from O'Reilly and from Rep. Szabo.
In the meantime, we applaud Hubbard for taking this real "smear merchant" to task.