In my ongoing quest to try to enlighten some friends of mine, I watched Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points, which aired last night. Okay, let’s break it down —
O’Reilly starts his rant by showing a cartoon picture of the Statue of Liberty holding a cat of nine tails. He wants us to believe that this proves that the New York Times hates America. I guess I could agree with him if the United States didn’t actively torture captives. This is what happened. Now I guess that conservatives like Bill O’Reilly and others would like to forget that chapter in our history (like forgetting the Trail of Tears or imprisonment of Japanese-Americans) but like other painful chapters before, the only way that we rectify this is by looking directly into the situation. This means investigations. O’Reilly then denigrates the New York Times by suggesting that they are unfair because of this one cartoon. A cartoon in the New York Times does not mean it’s fair or it isn’t. It has no relevance to their journalism and/or their editorial comments. So far, O’Reilly has spent a third of his three minutes babbling on about the New York Times.
Behind every liberal organization, Bill O’Reilly believes George Soros lurks. Of course, anyone with Internet access can take five minutes and find out that Georgia Soros, although a rich man, is not behind every liberal organization or even every liberal cause. George Soros is not behind the New York Times or GE or NBC for that matter. These facts don’t seem to matter to O’Reilly.
O’Reilly then justifies burying the torture story because it harms America’s image. This is one of the dumbest arguments he’s used so far. America’s image will elevate once America faces this problem and deals with it. But, on one hand, conservatives would have us believe that it doesn’t matter what our image in the world is and, on the other hand, our image around the world seems to matter to Bill O’Reilly at least in this specific instance. I guess this is one of those cases where you can have your cake and eat it too.
One of the talking points that Republicans have rolled out over the last several months is that any trial on torture will be a “show trial” or “a witchhunt”. For some reason, enforcing the law has now become no more than a show trial. Could it probably be that conservatives have embraced the wrong ideology? (Torture is good. Torture works.) Not in Bill O’Reilly’s mind. Instead, any trial will be an attempt to marginalize Republicans. Now, why would Democrats want to marginalize Republicans when Republicans are doing a great job of marginalizing themselves. You have Gov. Rick Perry of Texas who is talking about seceding from the union and less the week later is asking for federal funding to fight the swine flu. As long as Republicans continue to beat themselves, why should Democrats do anything? So, O’Reilly sees this conspiracy in which Democrats, at least some Democrats, are probably implicated in authorizing the torture, are trying to marginalize Republicans. He offers not one shred of evidence to support his premise. Somehow, exposing the ugly sore that is torture, in O’Reilly’s mind, is a win for the Democrats. I’m sorry, but I just don’t follow this illogical thought process. Americans torturing prisoners is a loss for all Americans… Democrats, Independents or Republicans. Anyone who says anything else is simply being disingenuous or stupid.
O’Reilly begins to rail on the Obama administration about releasing photographs. The photographs are mischaracterized by Bill O’Reilly as military investigations into prisoner abuse when in fact they are photographs of prisoner abuse. The ACLU requested the photographs in the same Freedom of Information Act request that released the four torture memos last week. The Obama administration is trying to be transparent and trying to comply with a court order. O’Reilly believes that the ACLU wants to “inflame the world against the USA.” Again, there is no evidence that the ACLU wants to do any such thing. Of course, in Bill O’Reilly’s world the ACLU is the enemy and therefore they must want to hurt the United States. Yet when you look at the ACLU’s charter and look at the cases that they take up, they seem to be trying to uphold the Bill of Rights.
Now comes the good part. Bill O’Reilly puts a list of Bush administration officials on the screen and states that these officials have told us that tough interrogation methods work. He then puts up the lone picture of Robert Mueller, FBI director, and states that Dir. Mueller is “vastly outnumbered.” This isn’t a numbers game. We don’t have evidence that “tough interrogation tactics” work. “I said so,” is not a good enough reason to believe any of those Bush administration officials. Where is the specific intelligence that we have gained from these tactics? If there were specific intelligence gained from these tactics, the Bush administration, in my opinion, would have been more than happy to release that information to get people like me off of their backs. All of the evidence that has been released so far, including the four torture memos, the Senate intelligence committee report and the Senate armed services committee report refuting the idea that these tactics were necessary.
Here is my problem with this line of thinking and questioning. Torture is illegal in this country. It really doesn’t matter what memos were written. Torture as defined in our laws is illegal in this country. If we are truly a country of laws then we must enforce those laws. If I get arrested for stealing, I can’t tell the police officer or the judge that I stole because I needed the money. Stealing is illegal and I will get put in jail for that. Unless Congress removes the law from our books, and that was not done, torture is illegal.
Maybe it is just me but Bill O’Reilly seems to be neither fair nor balanced in this 3:09 minute tirade. Maybe, just maybe, Bill O’Reilly may find something to talk about that Americans really cares about, like the economy or the unrest in Afghanistan, Pakistan, job losses, manufacturing in this country or the foreclosure rate. These are real issues. A cartoon in the New York Times, the New Yorker or the Washington Post is not a real issue.