I see where some folks are trying to nail Bill O’Reilly for somehow inciting the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas abortion provider, as Tiller was handing out programs at his church Sunday. See here, here and here.
I think O’Reilly is a pompous jerk, and the evidence demonstrates that he clearly went well overboard in his condemnation and demonization of Tiller.
But let’s be serious here. It’s irresponsible to link O’Reilly in any way to the crime in question. Even if you had evidence that the suspected killer was an O’Reilly devotee — and I have seen nothing to that effect — you would need a much stronger showing of cause and effect to justify such a serious accusation.
After all, Tiller was a controversial figure in his own right, the focus of protests and physical attacks and political grandstanding at the state and national level. This tragedy could have and probably would have happened even if O’Reilly had never mentioned Tiller’s name on the air.
O’Reilly, Limbaugh and others are symptoms of a problem, but for the most part they are not causes of the problem. If they did not exist, someone else would be sitting there doing what they do, because they are meeting a market demand. Look at Lou Dobbs and the schtick that resurrected his career; look at Michael Weiner, who laughably rebranded himself Michael Savage. They’re all playing roles for a profit, feeding off the paranoia and resentment of a certain type of American. (Although over time, they do seem to become the role they play.)
So yes, O’Reilly and the rest have a lot to answer for, and I wouldn’t want their jobs for a million dollars a week. I’d be dead of shame for doing what they do. But it’s too easy and simple to put the blame on their doorsteps — in fact, it smacks of the same demonization that they themselves indulge in so freely.