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In Smearing The ACLU, Bill O’Reilly Don’t Need No Stinking Facts!

Reported by Priscilla - November 9, 2008 -

On Thursday night’s (November 6th) Factor, one of Bill O’Reilly’s topics was the investigation and disclosure, by Ohio officials, of information related to “Joe the Plumber’s” (aka Sam Wurzelbacher) child support, welfare, and tax records. The segment began with a video of O’Reilly’s producer, Jesse Waters, stalking the government official involved. O’Reilly then asked Fox legal analysts, Megyn Kelly and Lis Wiehl, about whether this investigation was legal. The discussion soon became a platform for a standard right wing/Fox News talking point – bashing the ACLU. Thing is, it appears that there was no fact checking prior to the bombast. But what else is new?

Obviously, there are serious ramifications about the release of data vis-à-vis confidentiality statutes and this was discussed by the group. But a quick right turn was made when Bill said, “where’s the ACLU? Aren’t they the privacy people?” As if on cue, Kelly said (sarcastically) “this is a shocker.” When O’Reilly repeated the question about where the ACLU was, Kelly said (sarcastically) “they are out in California on behalf of the gay marriage advocates.” (Comment: Homophobia is an O’Reilly “family value” – it’s bad enough that these gays “cluster” at baseball games let alone want to get married!) Bill, in an attempt at humor, asked if the reason why the ACLU didn’t want to help the plumber (Comment: who isn’t licensed) was because they didn’t have bathrooms. When Kelly said that this case is “tailor made” for the ACLU, O’Reilly whined “can you imagine if a Republican did this to a Democrat? It's unbelievable.” As if on cue, Kelly said “outrage.” O’Reilly repeated “no ACLU. We haven’t seen any of them.” As of on cue, Wiehl said that they were all in California fighting the gay marriage ban. In case the audience didn’t get it the first and second time (repetition is very important in propaganda), O’Reilly repeated, for the third time, “all right. Let's get this. Let's get this. So we want to say, there's no ACLU in Ohio helping Joe the plumber.”

Comment: If Bill and Jesse had bothered to check the Ohio ACLU website, they would have found several articles addressing this issue. On November 3rd, there was a piece entitled “Joe the Plumber” records search highlights the need for clear policy on use of personal information in government databases." On October 31st, the Executive Director of the Ohio ACLU issued a press statement which was entitled “Government snoops have no right to pry into newsmakers' personal information.” Christine Link begins the article by stating that “I was deeply disturbed to hear that state officials approved the use of government databases to obtain information about Joseph Wurzelbacher, also known as "Joe the Plumber.” It does not appear the “Joe” has filed any lawsuits and until such time, the ACLU would not be directly involved. But, clearly, they have articulated a concern that was ignored by Fox News which is only interested smearing those on the enemies list - and the ACLU is a favorite target. But when the intent is to smear, propaganda is more important than fact.