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Did Bill O’Reilly Kill Dr. George Tiller?

This is the implicit accusation made by Salon columnist Gabriel Winant:

When his show airs tomorrow, Bill O’Reilly will most certainly decry the death of Kansas doctor George Tiller, who was killed Sunday while attending church services with his wife. Tiller, O’Reilly will say, was a man who was guilty of barbaric acts, but a civilized society does not resort to lawless murder, even against its worst members. And O’Reilly, we can assume, will genuinely mean this.
But there’s no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly thanks to the collusion of would-be sophisticated cultural elites, a bought-and-paid-for governor and scofflaw secular journalists. Tiller’s name first appeared on “The Factor” on Feb. 25, 2005. Since then, O’Reilly and his guest hosts have brought up the doctor on 28 more episodes, including as recently as April 27 of this year. Almost invariably, Tiller is described as “Tiller the Baby Killer.”

And it was not an inapt description, as any pro-lifer acquainted with Dr. Tiller’s late-term abortion practice would tell you. He performed abortions involving pregnancies in which the fetus was well past the point of “viability.” That such abortions are legal is a fact. Whether Dr. Tiller’s own practice was entirely within the law was much disputed in recent years. The reason O’Reilly addressed Dr. Tiller’s practice in so many episodes is because the doctor’s Kansas clinic was the subject of criminal investigation.

There is no evidence to suggest that O’Reilly had anything to do with the murder in which 51-year-old Scott Roeder is reportedly a suspect. Reports by the Kansas City Star indicate that Roeder had for many years been a particular type of crackpot. Roeder was reportedly involved in the so-called “Freeman” militia movement long before the first episode of “The O’Reilly Factor” was aired on Fox News.

However anyone might reproach O’Reilly for his rhetoric, the Fox personality is not responsible for the murder of Dr. Tiller. Indeed, he is less responsible for the murder of Dr. Tiller than Bill Ayers is responsible for those left dead by the 1981 Brinks armored car robbery in Nyack, N.Y., perpetrated with the assistance of some of Ayers’ former Weather Underground comrades.

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