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Boulder High School Students Join Forces To Demand An Apology From Bill O'Reilly

Reported by Deborah - May 31, 2007 -

Bill O'Reilly has recently made Boulder, Colorado and Boulder High School the focus of one of his brutal crusades claiming the school forced students to attend a forum encouraging them to have sex and take drugs.On 5/29, I posted about an O'Reilly ambush of three Boulder High School administrators and the next day News Hounds recieved this e-mail from Boulder High School Sophomore, Patrick Garrett.

Dear Newshounds.com staff,
My name is Patrick Garrett. I am a sophomore at Boulder High School, and co-leader of a group of Boulder students working to defend our town and school's reputation from Mr. O'Reillys attacks. Currently, we are working on a petition demanding that Mr. O'Reilly and Fox news apologize for thier comments about our school, its leadership, the district's leadership, as well as the city of Boulder as a whole. We realize is a bit of a long shot, but we feel compelled to do something about our current situation. However, we believe that with the proper amount of attention, our cause may be able to go somewhere. And so I come to why I am contacting you...my fellow students and I were wondering if you might be interested in doing an article about what we are doing. We have the support of several hundred students from both Boulder High, and our rival school, Fairview High. But to have any real creditbility, as the voices of students are often lost among the voices of adults, we need the support of adults and people from outside of Boulder. That's where exposure in the media comes in. We're contacting you because as a media platform that seems sympathetic to our cause, we would appreciate any attention that you could give us. Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear back from you!

Patrick Garrett

We asked Patrick to share some more information from the student's perspective and we recieved this illuminating response.

Thank you for responding! I would be happy to answer your questions, and I'll provide you with some of the other information.

Details of the Conference: The way Mr. O'Reilly has portrayed the message of the conference is completely false. It is the general opinion of those of us who were there, that the message was not to have sex indiscriminately or to use drugs or alcohol. Rather, the message was something like “If you are going to do those things, then be educated about their consequences, and be responsible”. That being a very different message than the one Mr. O’Reilly was trying to portray. There were some crude comments made, and the information is considered by some to not have been presented in the proper way, but overall, it was in fact what it was supposed to be…an educational experience.
Positive Experience: I myself found it a very positive experience. I learned a lot of new information that probably would not have presented to me in the regular curriculum (which, by the way, is very standard, I have never once been told in my education at Boulder High or at any Boulder Valley School that things like “casual sex” as Mr. O’Reilly put it is good, that Mr. O’Reilly has falsely accused). It’s my belief that the vast majority of students agree with that sentiment. There were a few people who do not consider it appropriate. There is one student, who was extremely brave, and told the panelists that she disagreed with them. The only reason I bring this up, is because after doing so, she was thunderously applauded by the students in the audience, and praised by the panelists themselves. I believe this goes to show the open nature of Boulder High.
Parents Reaction: The true reaction of the parents was varied. There are many parents in support of this conference, but there are also those who are against it. In his two reports, Mr. O’Reilly contradicted himself, saying in the first one (and I’m only able to paraphrase) “I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the parents showing their outrage over this”, while in his second report he states “It seems the parents of students at Boulder High just don’t care”. That contraction aside, the parents of Boulder High students DO care, that would be obvious. There is a site called BVSDWatch.org, that is following this story. It has some reactions of parents and students on it, if you would like to see some.
Here’s a brief history and explanation of why I, along with the other leaders of our group, created the petition…

The first person to really raise the alarm was my friend, Mansur Gidfar, who created a group on Facebook.com called “NEVER insult Boulder in front of me” after seeing the clip of the “O’Reilly Factor” about Boulder High that was aired on May 18th. When he created the group, it started just as a something to vent steam for, but it soon evolved into an actual movement when I suggested that we create a petition asking Mr. O’Reilly and Fox News for a formal apology. Most people at the time said that was a good idea, and so Mansur and I both worked on writing the petition. Once it was completed, we started circulating it around our school, and we got some volunteers to pass it around at another high school in Boulder, called Fairview High School. The group now has over 400 members, not limited to Boulder High. We also have several hundred signatures on our petition, and we intend to continue getting signatures as long as we can.

Our petition is not politically inclined. We are firm believers that Mr. O’Reilly is entitled to his opinions, and respect said opinions. However, we believe he has broken the code of ethical journalism, by not doing enough research, deliberately manipulating information (such as taking quotes out of context and making false statements), and attacking his political opponents at the expense of the reputation of Boulder High, its staff and students, and the community of Boulder. All we’re asking for is a simple apology. Nothing more, but nothing less either.

Here is a copy of the petition

Subject Matter
On May 18th, 2007, Mr. William O’Reilly made several unnecessary and offensive comments about Boulder High School, its staff and students, and the community of Boulder, Colorado on the “Unsolved Problems” portion of an episode of the Fox News television program “The O’Reilly Factor”.
Summary of Grievance
The general grievance of the following signatories is the selective coverage by Mr. O’Reilly of a Panel Discussion entitled “Sex, Teens, and Drugs” of the Conference of World Affairs that occurred on April 10th, 2007, at Boulder High School. Mr. O’Reilly’s “Unsolved Problems” segment was both biased and inaccurate, and placed significant amounts of blame directly on Boulder's community. We the signatories of this petition feel that this action by Mr. O’Reilly was a means to bring about negative political ramifications to his opposing political view, resulting in unwarranted damages done to Boulder High School, its staff and students, and the community of Boulder, Colorado, and demand a formal and full apology from both The Fox News Corporation and Mr. O’Reilly himself.
Inaccuracies in Coverage and Deliberate Misrepresentation of Information
During the “Unsolved Problems” segment of “The O’Reilly Factor, several inaccurate statements regarding Boulder High School were made. The following is a complete list of all inaccurate statements made by Mr. O’Reilly in the coverage of the April 10th panel:

“On April 10th students were ordered to attend a program during which some sex experts said some pretty controversial things”

This statement is false. Although students may have felt obligated to attend by teachers, attendance of the panel was not in any way made mandatory by any teacher, school administrator, or school policy. All students who attended did so with a class but could request alternate assignment at any time. The Conference of World Affairs Panel was a public event hosted by Boulder High School not limited to students but open to the public. Those who attended did so based on a genuine interest in the subject matter and were free to leave at any time.
During the afore mentioned “Unsolved Problems” segment of “The O’Reilly Factor, Mr. O’Reilly deliberately misrepresented panelists by playing several audio clips of panelists out of context in order to reflect poorly on the panel, school, and community. The Following is a list of all quotes taken out of context and the actual meaning of said quotes given the correct context:

“I’m going to encourage you to have sex, and I’m going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately. (applause and cheering from audience)”

This is a transcript of the audio clip quoting panelist Joel Beckner played on “The O’Reilly Factor”. The following is a transcript of the clip in full context:

“My name is Joel Becker, and I’m a clinical psychologist. I’m going to ducktail off a little bit of what Andee said, but I think I’m going to go in a little bit of a different direction, because I’m going to encourage you to have sex, and I’m going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately. (applause and cheering from audience) And why I’m going to take that position is because you’re going to do it anyway. So, my, my approach to this is to be realistic, and I think as a psychologist and a health educator, it’s more important to educate you in a direction that you might actually stick to.”

When taken out of context, the audio clip played by Mr. O’Reilly on air gave viewers the impression that the panel was promoting sex and drug use in high school students as something acceptable to be encouraged. This is not the case. In full context, it is readily apparent that Mr. Beckner was encouraging healthy sexual behavior and appropriate drug use given the fact that in his experience as a clinical psychologist, a high percentage of High School students have sex and use drugs regardless of what they are told. Mr. Beckner continues to describe that while not ideal, his approach is a realistic way to make sure that IF high school students decide to have sex and use drugs, they do so safely.
Slanderous Statements Made On Air
During the afore mentioned “Unsolved Problems” segment of “The O’Reilly Factor”, Mr. O’Reilly repeatedly made biased and opinionated remarks aiming to demonize and opposing political viewpoint of his show (liberalism) at the expense of Boulder High School, its staff and students, CWA panelists, and the community of Boulder, Colorado. The following is a complete list of direct quotations from Mr. O’Reilly, all exhibiting an overwhelmingly unfair bias for the sake of discrediting liberalism:

“It is hard to believe that in America today you can have a town as out-of-control as Boulder.”
“It seems the residents of Boulder don’t care that their high school tells their kids to go out and have sex of all kinds, at all ages, and to use narcotics. They simply don’t care in Boulder”
“Joel Becker is an LA based physiatrist who was on the panel. He’s a villain.”
“The principle of the school is who is the villain….he is the guy who has to go”
“… you got some big, big problems out there” (speaking to Dan Caplis)

Throughout the broadcast O’Reilly also makes repeated references to the political orientation of the majority of Boulder’s citizens, and attempts to relate the scandal regarding the panel directly to the fact that Boulder is a primarily liberal town.
Damages Cited as Result of Broadcast
The following statements refer to specific inflicted harms done to Boulder High School, its staff and students, and the community of Boulder, Colorado by the Mr. O’Reilly’s coverage of the April 10th, 2007 panel on Sex, Teens, and Drugs:
Unnecessary comments and unfair generalizations made about Boulder High School, its staff and students, and the community of Boulder, Colorado.
The obstruction and deliberate misinterpretation and manipulation of information in order to publicly discredit Boulder High School, its staff and students, and the community of Boulder, Colorado.
The deliberate humiliation and the damage to the reputation of Boulder High, School Principal Bud Jenkins, BVSD Superintendent George Garcia, BVSD School Board President Helayne Jones, as well as Boulder High School’s staff and student body.
The damage done to the reputation of both the city of Boulder, Colorado as well its citizens.
The damage done to the reputation of the Conference of World Affairs and the Boulder High School students whose hard work with conference officials gives the school the privilege of hosting yearly panels associated with the event.
Using the above mentioned issues as a means to inflict negative political ramifications on Mr. O’Reilly’s opposing political position (Liberalism), at the specific expense of Boulder High School, its staff and students, and the community of Boulder, Colorado.

We the signatories of this petition, demand a full and formal apology from both The Fox News Corporation and Mr. William O’Reilly himself for the aforementioned reasons.

Respectfully Submitted,

Patrick Garrett
Mansur Gidfar