O'Reilly has crusaded against one of three providers of late-term abortions for years, as Media Matters for America helpfully notes. America's favorite conservative broadcaster was obsessed with Tiller, mentioning him some 29 times since 2005. Salon.com notes that O'Reilly likened Tiller's practice as "a moral equivalent to NAMBLA and al-Qaida . . .This is the kind of stuff that happened in Mao's China, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union." The O'Reilly Factor host also dubbed Tiller "Tiller the Baby Killer" and made numerous references to the doctor having "blood on his hands."
As far as I can tell, O'Reilly never personally advocated violence against Tiller. But in his most recent show, he does not seem to express much sympathy for Tiller's family or the people who witnessed his murder in a Kansas church of all places.
"Tiller was serving as an usher during Sunday morning services when he was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church," according to the Associated Press. "Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time."
Even Operation Rescue -- which battled Tiller for decades -- made a halfhearted attempt at an apology through a statement (though the group called him "Mr. Tiller"). Most mainstream anti-abortion groups also denounced the murder.
Of course, the tragedy has left the most vocal critics of Fox apoplectic. In a recent broadcast, Keith Olbermann called on viewers to "quarantine" Fox News for whipping up public sentiment against Tiller. He even vowed that he would no longer use a funny voice imitating O'Reilly on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which has long featured O'Reilly on the "Worst Person in the World" segment.
O'Reilly, who liberals consider the second coming of Satan, refuses to accept culpability for Tiller's death, and, while I'm not necessarily a fan of his politics, I actually agree with him here. Should we ban violent video games, music, movies and music just because some deluded souls don't know the difference between fantasy and reality? Tiller's accused killer Scott Roeder had reportedly been enamored of fringe anti-government groups for years.
It's not O'Reilly's fault, per se, that Roeder's was incapable of telling the difference between real news and defensible positions and the inflamed rhetoric of today's newsentainment.