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Know-it-all O'Reilly - if he ruled the mountains he'd just say no to winter climbing

Reported by Chrish - December 19, 2006 -

Bill O'Reilly interviewed Matthew Weaver, former volunteer rescuer @ Mt. Hood and Glenn Kessler, Climbing Ranger @ Mt. Rainier, on The Factor 12/18/06 about the mountain climbers who are currently lost on Mt. Hood. O'Reilly thinks it's madness to climb in the winter and wants to put a stop to it, in the interest of protecting the teams that perform these numerous rescues at great cost to taxpayers.

O'Reilly argued with these two experienced experts about the ability and legality of climbers going up in potentially dangerous conditions. Both said that their groups at their respective mountains seek to educate climbers and to convince them to hold off for better conditions, but they can't and don't forbid anyone to climb. O'Reilly wants the state to enact a law to forbid climbing under certain weather conditions. Weaver found it ironic that he, a self-described "left leaning" person, was arguing the conservative point of view of less state intervention.

O'Reilly compared it to a day at the beach, saying if there is a rip-tide or a shark or jellyfish, at most beaches the red flags go up and people are not allowed in the water. (What he fails to mention is that he is referring to public beaches maintained by townships or other jurisdictions; private beaches and national shorelines are un-guarded and people can and do take their chances.) Weaver says, "with all due respect" (lol) O'Reilly doesn't know how big Mt. Hood is. Of course Mr. Know-it-all does; he says he used to live "out there." According to him, you just put up signs to keep people off.

O'Reilly went to Kessler, who reinforced the idea that education is the key, and viewers could hear O'Reilly groan, shaking his head, in the background. Kessler stated that it's a national forest, and they can't close all the roads, and it's ironic that the Forest Service can't fund a single Climber Ranger at Mt. Ranier.

O'Reilly first repeated that beach-closing analogy and said it should apply to mountains as well, then moments later said he agreed with Kessler in theory but that requires dealing with reasonable people. In his tactless low-class style he blurted "we're probably gonna have three dead guys" and described the missing climbers as veteran, experienced outdoorsmen who decided to take a chance, and now this is the bottom line. People say "if they want to kill themselves, let them kill themselves, a lot of people say that, your libertarians say that, you wanna kill yourself, kill yourself." But, he jabs, this puts rescuers at risk. Weaver responded that rescuers will not put themselves in unreasonable danger and O'Reilly, expert at frickin' everything, said "You know you guys take chances to try to rescue these people - come on, I been up with you guys." Weaver allowed that there are risks but there are limits to how far rescuers will go, and it's no coincidence that the first find was made on a clear weather day.

Comment: Why have experts on if you're going to argue with them and correct them? O'Reilly's penchant for authoritarianism and disregard for personal choice was very clear in this segment, prompting one email writer (at the end of the show) to say "As a mountain rescue professional, I find your communistic view of banning some climbing to be appalling," to which O'Reilly jokingly replied "better red than dead." Some writers supported the beach closing scenario, while others want to keep the government from limiting yet another freedom.

Interesting how the new conservatives want the government to take care of us and keep us safe, cradle to grave, by restricting our freedoms and limiting our choices. They kindly want to monitor and control us "for our own good." This must be what they had in mind when the "grown-ups" took charge - we are mere children who need daddy to tell us what to do.

In all honesty, why don't climbers take transmitters with them? Seems like a simple, cheap, life-saving solution.