We can add Mexico to the list of countries and entities that Bill O’Reilly thinks he has vanquished from his mighty microphone. You may recall how his boycott of France cost them “billions of dollars” (a claim Media Matters proved false) and how Pepsi canceled a Ludacris ad thanks to him. I’m not sure what the result of his threats to Canada and Aruba were. But now that a former Marine has been released from a Mexican jail after an extensive on-air campaign by O’Reilly and Fox News, O’Reilly announced last night, “The only reason the Mexicans let him out in the first place is because I told them if they didn’t, there was going to be real trouble economically down there for them.”
The case involves ex Marine Jon Hammar who made the foolish decision to bring a shotgun into Mexico which is a serious crime.
The Daily News explains:
Hammar and a friend were en route to Costa Rica for a surfing trip when they passed through the border checkpoint in Brownsville, Texas, allegedly declaring the old shotgun to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
The agents allowed the pair to continue, allegedly telling them the gun wouldn’t be a problem at the Matamoros, Mexico checkpoint. There, Hammar tried to declare the gun and both he and his friend, a former Marine, were immediately arrested. His friend was released days later.
Despite all the Fox News coverage, I never once saw an attempt to verify whether Hammar’s account about being told the gun would not be a problem was true. Instead, O’Reilly called the charges “bogus.” The charges may have been inappropriate but they were not bogus. As The Daily News article later notes, it’s a federal crime to carry a shotgun in Mexico.
Last night, O’Reilly interviewed Hammar’s father. Once again, the interview was used as an excuse to attack the Obama administration and the State Department - whose head, Hillary Clinton, just happens to be seen as a likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.
At about nine minutes into the interview, O’Reilly asked Hammar’s father, “Has the State Department contacted you? Anybody from the U.S. Government contacted you?”
Hammar said he had only heard from his congressional reps. News flash to O'Reilly, this case of a foolish American (supposedly) inadvertently breaking the law in Mexico and going to jail may not be a top priority for our State Department. Or maybe they're just not as interested in grandstanding as you are.
O’Reilly: You know, it’s kind of shocking to me that the State Department, number one, couldn’t get him out. And number two, hasn’t even called you and said, “How’s he doing? Can we do anything for you?” We just don’t want to throw Americans away. You know what I’m talking about here?
Yes, I believe we do, Bill. We don’t want to throw Americans away when you and your anti-Democratic network can make political hay out of it but we toss American lives right out the window when, say, a Republican administration invades a country over a false claim that they have weapons of mass destruction. Or if you’re an abortion provider named Dr. George Tiller and get murdered after years of being demonized on your show as a “baby killer.” Has anyone on Fox ever expressed remorse over THOSE lost lives?
And the only reason the Mexicans let him out in the first place is because I told them if they didn’t, there was going to be real trouble economically down there for them. And then finally, Nieto, the new president, got the message and told these guys to let him out. And bang, he’s out.
…As soon as the big shots in Mexico City realized they were gonna be punished by the American people – and that’s what would have happened, alright? I mean, there were already cancellations for people traveling down there.
As it turns out, the State Department did help, at least to some degree. The Daily News reports, "For his own protection, prison officials, with the help of U.S. consular officials, moved Hammar out of the prison’s general population."
If O'Reilly or anyone else at Fox really cared about what the State Department did and did not do, you'd think they'd have actually reported some facts, rather than shoot off inflammatory soundbites. But I don't expect that information coming any time soon. Not unless they unearth something that tarnishes Clinton and/or the Obama administration.