Thursday, July 05, 2007

O'Reilly and the pistol-packin' mamas

-- by Dave

We have long been aware that Fox's Bill O'Reilly has a marked propensity for credulousness when it comes to far-right conspiracy theories; he has a history of transmitting ideas from extremists and making them appear reasonable and factual when in reality they are simple lunacy spun from whole cloth.

Of course, New World Order theories have been getting fresh circulation in recent weeks from the likes of Glenn Beck and Ron Paul, but those hardly hold a candle to the completely whacked-out theory offered by O'Reilly late last week on his daily Fox broadcast, as the SPLC's Susy Buchanan and David Holthouse report:
A "national underground network" of pink pistol-packing lesbians is terrorizing America. "All across the country," they are raping young girls, attacking heterosexual males at random, and forcibly indoctrinating children as young as 10 into the homosexual lifestyle, according to a shocking June 21 segment on the popular Fox News Channel program, "The O'Reilly Factor."
Titled "Violent Lesbian Gangs a Growing Problem," the segment began with host Bill O'Reilly briefly referencing for his roughly 3 million viewers the case of Wayne Buckle, a DVD bootlegger who was attacked by seven lesbians in New York City last August. Deploying swift, broad strokes, O'Reilly painted a graphic picture of lesbian gangs running amok. "In Tennessee, authorities say a lesbian gang called GTO, Gays Taking Over, are involved in raping young girls," he reported. "And in Philadelphia, a lesbian gang called DTO, Dykes Taking Over, are allegedly terrorizing people as well."

After this introduction, O'Reilly went to a split-screen live interview with "Fox News crime analyst" Rod Wheeler.

"Tell me what's going on," O'Reilly said.

Wheeler, a Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department officer-turned-paid Fox News commentator, launched right in: "Well, you know, there is this national underground network, if you will, Bill, of women that's lesbians and also some men groups that's actually recruiting kids as young as 10 years old in a lot of the schools in the communities all across the country," he reported. "And they actually carry a number of weapons. And they commit a number of crimes."

Wheeler asserted that "we've actually counted, just in the Washington D.C. area alone, that's Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, well over 150 of these crews. … And they — like I said, they recruit these kids to be members of these gangs."

O'Reilly asked, "Now, when they recruit the kids, are they indoctrinating them into homosexuality?"

"Yes," Wheeler answered. "As a matter of fact, some of the kids have actually reported that they were forced into, you know, performing sex acts and doing sex acts with some of these people."

Flabbergasted by the sheer depravity of it all, O'Reilly nevertheless forged ahead. "I never thought of this," said the host of the "no-spin zone." "It makes sense that, if you had lawless gay people, they would do this kind of thing. You associate homosexuality more with a social movement, not a criminal movement. But you're saying this is all over the country, detective?"

"It's all over the country," Wheeler replied. "I mean, you go from New York to California to wherever you want to name, you can see these organizations." Next came the pink guns. "Now, the other thing, too, that our viewers are going to find very, very interesting, is the fact that they actually carry—some of these groups carry pink pistols," Wheeler said. "They call themselves the pink-pistol-packing group. And these are lesbians that actually carry pistols. That's 9-millimeter Glocks. They use these. They commit crimes, and they cause a lot of hurt to a lot of people."

So, what exactly was the basis of this report?

Turns out that Wheeler is not exactly the kind of source one would consider reliable:
Confronted by the Intelligence Report, Wheeler was unable, in several phone and E-mail exchanges over a two-day period, to specify a single law enforcement agency or officer, police report, media account or any other source he relied upon for his D.C. area lesbian gangs claim. But he insisted that his report was accurate and that any law enforcement officer who disagrees is "out of touch." "For some reason or other, these organizations don't lay it on the line because they don't know what is going on on the streets," said Wheeler. "This is a serious crisis and the so-called experts are missing it."

According to Wheeler's personal website, he is a member of Jericho City of Praise, a conservative Christian megachurch in Landover, Md., whose leadership publicly advocates against equal rights for gays and lesbians. The website details Wheeler's 500-plus appearances on MSNBC, Court TV and Fox News Channel shows including "The O'Reilly Factor," "On the Record With Greta Van Sustern," and "Hannity & Colmes."

...Wheeler told the Report that he spent seven years in professional law enforcement before going to work as a corporate security officer for McDonald's Corp., a job he has since left. These days, Wheeler is a "food defense specialist" for the American Institute of Baking. Just this spring, he publicly warned that the Big Mac is vulnerable to bioterrorist attacks at "250 points" during production.

So, what about the factual basis for the report?

Er ... what factual basis?
The only specific instance of actual violent lesbian gang activity that Wheeler cited on "The O'Reilly Factor" was a May 19 attack on a 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near a transit station in Prince George's County, Md. "And the police found out that it was a group of six women who identified themselves as being members of a lesbian gang that actually attacked this young man," Wheeler told O'Reilly.

According to a June 15 article in The Washington Post, however, two of the three individuals arrested in that assault were teenage males, though the article did note that, "Metro officials said the fight was between two gay and lesbian gangs that operate in Maryland."

An extensive Internet search seeking to verify O'Reilly's assertion in the introduction to Wheeler's interview that a lesbian gang called Dykes Taking Over is "terrorizing people" in Philadelphia turned up only one possible source. WCAU-TV, a local NBC affiliate in that city, reported in 2004 that a small group of 8th-grade girls at a West Philadelphia middle school were allegedly "bullying, groping and harassing" other girls in gym class with "gay remarks." The report made no mention of the 8th-graders using pink pistols or other weapons.

Similarly, O'Reilly's introductory mention of a Tennessee lesbian gang called Gays Taking Over that is "involved in raping young girls" appears to have been based solely on a highly dubious Feb. 28 television report from WPTY-TV, an ABC affiliate in Memphis, Tenn. Featuring dramatic "reenactments" of high school bathroom rape scenes shot in grainy black-and-white footage, the lengthy segment's vaguely salacious claims about local high school girls being raped and "sodomized" with "sex toys bought on the Internet" was based almost entirely on the lurid musings of a single Shelby County gang officer.

Titled "Violent Femmes," the sweeps-week segment was so thinly sourced and grotesquely sensationalized that it's difficult to believe that any professional journalist found it to be credible. And it wasn't. Under intense pressure from local gay and lesbian activists, the affiliate's station manager finally admitted that WPTY-TV's reporters had neither independently verified the gang officer's overheated claims nor obtained any documentary evidence such as arrest records or written police reports to substantiate their tale. As the station grudgingly conceded, "Our investigation did not turn up widespread violence in schools due to this."

O'Reilly so far is simply pretending that the report was accurate; he's refused to respond to SPLC inquiries.

Evidently, the "no spin zone" is increasingly resembling the Bizarro Universe.

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