What a difference a weekend makes! On Friday, Bill O’Reilly applauded President Obama’s change in immigration policy as politically brilliant. Last night, O’Reilly was full of smears and jeers designed to make Obama look like some lawless dictator, including, “(Obama) says he doesn’t like” the current immigration law, “so he, Julius Caesar, is going to say, ‘No,’ you don’t have to enforce it.”
O’Reilly began his new offense against Obama’s policy change – which just happens to be in concert with attacks seen all over other Fox shows - by spending the first three segments suggesting that President Obama had acted with reckless disregard for the law in effecting the change that allows some children here illegally to avoid deportation.
In his Talking Points memo at the top of the show (the first video below), O’Reilly said, “The president’s new policy might very well be illegal.” Then, in a feint away from “might very well,” O’Reilly played a clip of Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer calling it “out and out lawlessness.” It’s worth noting that Krauthammer is a psychiatrist by training, not a lawyer.
O’Reilly announced, “If you go by the letter of the law, Charles Krauthammer is correct.” In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that it’s perfectly legal. Yet, O’Reilly, who is also not a lawyer, slyly avoided getting that information to his “No Spin Zone” viewers. Instead, he went on to declare that while he agreed with the substance of Obama’s decision, the process was not just wrong but deplorable. Children brought to this country illegally, through no fault of their own should, O'Reilly intoned, "be given special status BY CONGRESS (his emphasis)… What the president did was flat out unconstitutional. No spin.”
Even if you assume O’Reilly had a valid argument that Obama’s decision was unlawful, there’s no excuse for the sly spin put forth via his choice of guests. First, came a debate between political pundits - not lawyers - conservative Mary Katharine Ham and liberal Juan Williams. That’s where O’Reilly made the remark likening President Obama to Julius Caesar (in the second video below.) That segment was followed by a discussion with Karl Rove (another non-attorney) in which he also repeatedly challenged the legality. Rove was “balanced” by an interview with Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who has recently revealed he’s an undocumented immigrant who has lived in the U.S. since childhood. Vargas was presented as a sympathetic guest putting a human, compassionate face to the problem (and Obama's solution), but he was not presented as any kind of legal counter to the “Obama as Julius Caesar” meme that O’Reilly had persistently put forth.