Liberal bloggers point finger at Bill O'Reilly in George Tiller's death [Updated]
It's no secret that Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly was instrumental in publicizing the activities of George Tiller, the 67-year-old Kansas doctor who was one of the few physicians in the country to perform late-term abortions in the face of protests, bombings at Tiller's clinic and death threats.
Tiller was slain over the weekend, as he stood in his church in Wichita, Kan., serving as an usher. President Obama decried the killing, saying, "However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence." Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist and former member of a right-wing militia group, has been arrested.
Now, liberal bloggers are speculating that what one called O'Reilly's "jihad against Tiller" may have contributed to the doctor's death.
"There's no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose," said Salon.com's Gabriel Winant. Tiller has been vilified in 29 episodes of O'Reilly's "The Factor," Winant reports, usually described as "Tiller the Baby Killer" and often as a doctor who "destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000."
On March 15, 2006, O'Reilly said Tiller was the moral equivalent of Al Qaeda. On Nov. 9, 2006, he likened the physician who gave women legal abortions to China's Mao, Germany's Hitler or the Soviet Union's Stalin. And on Dec. 12, 2006, he unleashed all his hatred in this episode. See what you think.
For the most part, both pro-choice and antiabortion groups of the mainstream variety were careful to condemn Tiller's slaying.
But Operation Rescue, which ran a Tiller Watch on its website, called Tiller "a mass murderer." In a statement, the group's founder, Randall Terry, said, “We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God.”
Maybe, as MSNBC's political team suggested this morning, the culture wars are about to return big time.
Corrected, 7:25 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said that the right-wing blogosphere was defending O'Reilly by blaming the Obama administration, and quoted John Aravosis, who blogs for AmericaBlog.com, as noting that the White House withdrew a domestic terrorism report that warned of abortion protest violence. AmericaBlog is a liberal outlet, and its sarcastic post took us in. We apologize for mislabeling AmericaBlog and for misunderstanding Aravosis' intent.
-- Johanna Neuman