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The Obvious Question Behind Tiller's Murder: What Role Did Bill O'Reilly Play?

Reported by Ellen - June 1, 2009 -

There are some excellent articles questioning Bill O'Reilly's role in the murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. In Salon, Gabriel Winant predicts (as do I) that O'Reilly will decry Tiller's death, and I'll add my own prediction that a slew of other on-air personalities at Fox will do the same. But it's impossible to dismiss as irrelevant O'Reilly's persistent hate-mongering against Tiller, especially given that Tiller and his clinic were long ago the target of violent threats and attacks.

Winant writes about O'Reilly:

There's no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly thanks to the collusion of would-be sophisticated cultural elites, a bought-and-paid-for governor and scofflaw secular journalists.

David Neiwert, at Crooks and Liars, notes that O'Reilly went so far as to suggest that retaliation might be justified. "If we allow Dr. George Tiller and his acolytes to continue, we can no longer pass judgment on any behavior by anybody," O'Reilly stated in 2006. Neiwert also points out that O'Reilly similarly accused anyone who refused to buy into his accusation of coddling killers.

We may never know the answer to whether or not O'Reilly bore any relation to Tiller's murder. But it's long past time to start questioning the role of that kind of inflammatory rhetoric in our public discourse.