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The O’Reilly question

The shooting death of abortion provider George Tiller has put Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly in the media spotlight

The shooting death of abortion provider George Tiller has put Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly in the media spotlight because of stories he did about the Kansas doctor over the past few years.

Liberal commentators have questioned whether O’Reilly’s words, including calling the doctor “Tiller the baby killer,” were too incendiary. O’Reilly condemned Tiller’s killing and said his opponents are exploiting the murder to attack Fox and stifle criticism of people like Tiller.

Tiller was gunned down Sunday while at church services in Wichita. He had operated a clinic that was one of three in the nation to perform abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy, when the fetus is considered viable, and had survived a previous shooting.

O’Reilly said on his first show after the killing that “quick-thinking Americans” should condemn it.

“Anarchy and vigilantism will assure the collapse of any society,” he said. “Once the rule of law breaks down a country is finished.”

Before Tiller’s death, O’Reilly had talked about him on his top-rated The O’Reilly Factor some 29 times since February 2005, according to Salon magazine Monday.

Twice he sent producers to Kansas to report on the story. In June 2007, Fox’s Porter Barry confronted Tiller in the street and asked, “they call you Tiller the baby killer. Is that appropriate?’”

Salon’s Gabriel Winant wrote that “O’Reilly didn’t tell anyone to do anything violent, but he did put Tiller in the public eye, and help make him the focus of a movement with a history of violence against exactly these kinds of targets.”

 
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