Bill O’Reilly: dumbest man alive

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, July 22, 2011 17:09 EDT
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I don't say that lightly; there are many dumbasses in the world.  But this clip really puts O'Reilly over the top.  He makes, in quick order, three mind-boggling claims:

1) That the Institute of Medicine recommended that the HHS use tax dollars to pay for every woman's birth control. 

2) That free birth control won't reduce unwanted pregnancy rates, because the reason women get pregnant is they're "blasted" and don't use birth control.

3) The third claim is implicit, and it's that the birth control that's under discussion—he specifically mentions the pill—requires you to remember to use it while you're having the kind of wild, drunken sex O'Reilly has failed to invite into his life with loofah references.  If he can't get any, ladies, neither can you!

Anyway, all of these claims are manifestly stupid.  Let's take them one at a time.

1) Actually, the IOM recommended that the HHS classify contraception as preventive medicine.  This would not affect taxpayer dollars at all, because what it would do is require insurance companies to cover contraception without a co-pay.  I  have no idea where this stupid $4 billion figure he's bandying around comes from, but it's irrelevant.  The move is universally understood by serious people to be one that will save money in the short and long term, with the hopes that it will lower costs overall to the consumer.  The reason is pills, IUDs, etc. are cheap, but childbirth and babies are expensive.  Even though it would benefit consumers and insurance companies over the long run to cover prevention completely, the reason it's not done is insurance companies gamble that some other company will have you when you get diabetes/have an unwanted pregnancy/have a stroke.  So the government will just regulate it, and that takes that problem away.  But the takeaway is this: he's lying about the government paying for it, and that it will cost money. It will actually save money.

2) This is basically a moral claim.  O'Reilly is framing unwanted pregnancy as a woman's just punishment for being a dirty, drunken slut.  He doesn't, however, explain why he thinks it's such a great idea to have women he considers irresponsible, slutty drunks put in charge of raising the next generation.  This is typical anti-choice thinking—putting punishing "dirty girls" above all other concerns, including the well-being of children.

Anyway, there's no reason to believe that his claim has any basis in reality.  O'Reilly may only get laid on New Year's Eve after some heavy drinking, but most Americans have sex on average of a little over twice a week.  His implication that we're a nation of mostly celibate people who get trashed and then give into temptation doesn't fit the realities.  

3) But even if this were true, it wouldn't matter.  O'Reilly clearly doesn't understand how the birth control pill works.  His statement only makes sense if you assume that the pill works by a woman taking it right before or during  sex to prevent conception, which is why being drunk might make you forget it.  But in reality, that's not how the pill works at all, as roughly everyone in the world over 10 years old that isn't Bill O'Reilly understands.  You just take it during the day and it covers you for having sex roughly whenever, as long as you're up on your pills. If you haven't been taking your pills and you take one right before sex, it doesn't offer any protection.

O'Reilly's lies about the IOM recommendations and about how only drunk sluts get pregnant are toxic.  But beyond all that, I want to emphasize this: Bill  O'Reilly is 61 years old.  He has been on this planet for 61 years, and he knows so little about female biology and sexuality he literally thinks you have to use the birth control pill during sex for it to work.  O'Reilly has both a wife and a daughter, and yet he's so ignorant about female biology, I bet you could tell him that women get their periods out of their urethras and he'd probably believe you.  But despite knowing less about female biology than your average 6th grader, O'Reilly feels entitled to rail on and on about abortion, birth control, reproductive rights, women's sexuality, and health care.  This is in part due to our toxic culture that treats white men like authorities, even when they're so stupid you have a strong feeling they need their wives to tie their shoes for them in the morning. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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