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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bill O'Reilly Vs. Joan Walsh: The Shootout

Last night, the O'Reilly Factor had a shootout that will become legendary.

Ms. Walsh was one of the chief critics that accused of having some responsibility for the killing of Dr. George Tiller. Most O'Reilly critics would never actually criticize him to his face so she definitely gets credit for coming in and facing the fire.

The debate started with a critical question from O'Reilly. Does Ms. Walsh believe that a fetus in the third trimester have any rights? It took her a long time to answer the question but ultimately she believes that no fetus has any rights at any time.

The reason that O'Reilly asked this question, in my opinion, is because such a position is extreme even for those that are pro choice. O'Reilly's point is that she is an ideologue in the debate over abortion and her ideology drives the way she sees the world. This was supported when Walsh proclaimed Dr. Tiller a "hero".

The second critical part of the debate was over facts. O'Reilly believes that Dr. Tiller performed many abortions that were frivilous. He once had a 24 year old girl on that described having a late term abortion performed by Dr. Tiller. Some of that interview was featured in the shootout. It is harrowing, totally dehumanized, and the girl continues to refer to the fetus as her baby. Furthermore, she said that she "killed her baby".

O'Reilly's position is also backed up by the raw numbers. Dr. Tiller performed about 60,000 late term abortions. It's simply impossible to believe that with modern technology we should believe that anywhere near all 60,000 were necessary. Finally, Dr. Paul McHugh, who served as director of Pschiatry at Johns Hopkins, studied the files of Dr. Tiller. Dr. McHugh concluded that often Dr. Tiller would perform late term abortions for frivilous reasons like not wanting to hire a babysitter, not wanting to put a baby up for adoption, and lamenting not being able to have a social life with a baby. Legal or not, doctors should NOT be killing a fetus for such reasons.

Ms. Walsh had no very good answer to these charges. She first charged that Dr. McHugh was no more of an expert than Dr. Tiller. Furthermore, she pointed to anecdotal evidence of women she had spoken to that said that Dr. Tiller had performed late term abortions because they had recently suffered inoperable cancers, the baby wouldn't survive for more than a day, and other tragic reasons. All of this may in fact be true but just because she found some anedotal evidence that Dr. Tiller performed necessary late term abortions doesn't mean that often he did it for frivilous reasons.

Furthermore, her refusal to acknowledge the evidence is further evidence of her being blinded by her ideology. (which was why O'Reilly asked her her opinion of a fetus' rights) Finally, Walsh tried to make a theoretical point that if someone demonized a gun dealer and then someone killed said gun dealer that person would also be partially responsible for that death.

For her part, here is how Joan Walsh explains her side.

I was surprised when so many people I respect told me not to appear on "The O'Reilly Factor." I'd attacked Bill O'Reilly for his jihad against Dr. George Tiller, and he asked me on to discuss my "accusations." I thought that was fair. I could explain my point of view to his face; to say no felt like being a punk. But smart andsupportive friends, family, co-workers, Twitterers and media stars all over the country reached out and suggested I skip it.

I thought about it, but not for long. I like doing TV. I'm not terrible at it. I criticized him, I should have the guts to repeat it to his face. I also need to say that when I announced I'd said yes, every one of the doubters, and more, sent me great advice and good wishes. (Thanks to Media Matters who, unbidden, just had staff start sending me clips to watch, about O'Reilly's lies. And if you're not on Twitter, well, Twitter rocked for me.) My daughter coached me; so did my litigator ex-husband, so did my friend and Salon co-conspirator Kerry Lauerman. It takes a village to debate Bill O'Reilly!

His producers also helped by doing that thing they do: "Hey, Bill really respects you for coming on the show! He wants to have a conversation! It'll be fine!" (And they promoted my appearance on the show by identifying me on the Web
site as "Joan Walsh of")

Well, it was so not fine. I think the high or low point was when he shrieked at me, "You have blood on your hands!"

It's true that O'Reilly did say she had blood on her hands. It comes late after she accused O'Reilly of having blood on his hands. That sort of inflammatory language probably didn't advance the argument in any constructive way on either side, though it made for good television.

The debate really comes down to two things. First, do you believe that Dr. Tiller is a hero that saved women's lives and health, or do you think killed fetus' for any reason in order to become fabulously wealthy? Second, who is responsible for the murder of Dr. Tiller. For that, I think that Glenn Beck had it best when he said the only person responsible for Dr. Tiller's murder is the murderer himself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

in this life or the next justice is delivered. a murderer was murdered. what irony.

dan kardas
milford ct