UPDATE #3: Let the record show that KDVR FOX 31 is not the national FOX News. Eli Stokols:
In the segment, the reporter demands that Ferrandino explain how he could oppose mandatory sentences for first-time child molesters and cites a few cases in which predators have done minimal jail time.
But it’s O’Reilly’s repeated mentioning of Ferrandino’s sexual orientation, which would seem to have little relevance to an issue of criminal justice, in both on-air segments that has Colorado Democrats upset. [Pols emphasis]
UPDATE #2: Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio hits back hard at Bill O'Reilly moments ago:
Republicans are attacking Ferrandino for opposing a bill that would tie the hands of prosecutors who are trying to convict child predators. Colorado has some of the toughest penalties in the country for convicted child molesters, and our district attorneys have flexibility to make the best prosecution possible in each case. Colorado prosecutors and victims' rights groups stand with Speaker Ferrandino for smart and tough law enforcement, but that isn't stopping Republicans.
Instead, they are lobbing some of the most vile, homophobic attacks you will ever see. [Pols emphasis] Bill O'Reilly and his Republican allies are insinuating that our State House Speaker protects child predators because he is gay. If there is a more vicious smear they could try, it's hard to imagine what it could even be.
It's a relief to see this isn't being taken passively. With O'Reilly and co-smear Rep. Libby Szabo, it should not be.
UPDATE: FOX News-dogging Media Matters for America weighs in:
During the February 22 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly criticized Ferrandino for opposing "Jessica's Law," a measure that would impose a 25-year sentence on those found guilty of sexually assaulting children. Law enforcement experts and victims' advocates in Colorado have deemed Jessica's Law unnecessary, noting that current Colorado laws "already go beyond what Jessica's law mandates."
During the segment, O'Reilly joined Colorado Rep. Libby Szabo (R-27) in attempting to link Ferrandino's opposition to the bill to his homosexuality and support for civil unions. O'Reilly also promised to hold Ferrandino "personally responsible," threatening that his life would soon "take a turn for the worse…"
And now, Bill O'Reilly is doing his very worst to keep that promise.
Think Progress picks up on a story we started covering over a week ago, the newfound interest from host Bill O'Reilly in Speaker of the Colorado House Mark Ferrandino–now the target of a campaign on O'Reilly's show linking Ferrandino's support for civil unions with both his personal life and the killing of a perennial GOP bill pertaining to child predators. As posted this morning:
As expected, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is continuing his smear campaign against Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D), who is openly gay, because of his opposition to instituting “Jessica’s Law,” which imposes excessive mandatory sentences for first-time offenders of child molesters…Colorado already has harsh sentencing for sex offenders and nobody — not even the law enforcement community or victims’ advocates groups — supports changing the laws. But that hasn’t stopped O’Reilly from pursuing his campaign against Ferrandino, who he plans to hold “personally responsible” for the bill’s defeat and for “protecting” perpetrators.
Last night, a segment aired of Speaker Ferrandino being confronted by a FOX News crew outside his home:
WATTERS: You're not protecting the kids from sexual predators in passing Jessica's Law. Why is that?
FERRANDINO: Well, no DA's. The DA has actually opposed Jessica's Law. So have victim rights groups in Colorado. In 2009, the DA has come out in opposition to the bill. They haven't supported it still. We have very strong laws.
WATTERS: You actually don't have strong laws because let me give you a few examples…
As we've discussed and press has reported, existing Colorado law on the matter of child predators is already very tough, sufficiently that law enforcement groups and victims groups like the Colorado District Attorneys' Council and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault didn't find reason to support the bill. We can't speak to these anecdotal cases Ferrandino was confronted with, but we do know what the experts say about Colorado law.
But again, as we said before and TP drives home today, this wasn't about reality. It's about smear.
It’s hard to justify anything about this “campaign” of O’Reilly’s as journalism. It seems increasingly apparent that he is simply manipulating the fact that Ferrandino is gay to prey on viewers’ fears that the Speaker is thus somehow more likely to be endangering children.
After our own Rep. Libby Szabo told O'Reilly that Ferrandino is "obviously protecting somebody" in the death of this bill, and O'Reilly's explicit linkage between Ferrandino being gay and the death of "Jessica's Law," we would consider O'Reilly's deplorable motives more than simply "apparent."
They are obvious.