Fox News host Bill O'Reilly denied on Tuesday that he was playing up the speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives' sexual orientation to link him to sex offenders, while still saying he looked like "a complete fool" during an ambush interview organized by his program.
O'Reilly said the reason he has mentioned that state Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D) is gay is because "Americans don't know who he is and that description is used in almost every article ever written about him," pushing back on criticism from Denver Post opinion editor Glenn Hubbard in a March 10 column.
"O'Reilly's fear-mongering should offend all Coloradans," Hubbard said in his column. "He was saying "gay," but what he wanted his listeners to hear was 'pervert-pedophile.' Disagree? Then you try explaining what Ferrandino's sexual orientation and stance on civil unions has to do with Jessica's Law."
The law, which has passed in 44 states, is named after 9-year-old Jessica Lumford, who was sexually assaulted and buried alive by a sex offender who had completed his jail sentence for a previous assault. It would have imposed a 25-year mandatory sentence on repeat sex offenders.
After accusing the Post of working "pretty much working together" with state Democrats, O'Reilly told Fox contributor Bernard Goldberg he has mentioned Ferrandino's orientation in order to provide context on what he called his strong advocacy for gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana.
"You have to basically get behind the motivation of the man, and his motivation is very narrow," O'Reilly said. "He's got only a couple of things he wants to do in there that he feels passionate about, but the kids, apparently, he doesn't feel passionately about because he sabotaged it."
But according to KDVR-TV, Ferrandino never endorsed Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana after being passed by voters in November 2012. Ferrandino did introduce a House bill legalizing civil unions between same sex couples, but same sex marriage is not allowed in Colorado under the state constitution. The bill was approved by the state House on March 12 in a 39-26 vote.
O'Reilly has blamed Farrandino for the failure of a state version of Jessica's Law to pass a February 2013 vote in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
"What shocks me is for the two years Republicans had the majority, they didn't introduce this bill," Farrandino said after the proposal, House Bill 1149, was voted down. "This is all about politics and not good policy."
According to the Post, the bill was opposed by both the state public defenders office and District Atttorneys' council as well as the Colorado Coalition against Sexual Assault.
"Jessica's Law is a 25-year sentence," said Laurie Rose Kepros, director of Sexual Offense Defense for the public defenders office. "We have life sentences for all of the crimes covered under the bill."
Farrandino can be seen making that point in the interview footage O'Reilly aired on March 4, but his remarks were apparently cut short.
Watch video of O'Reilly's interview with Goldbert posted by Equality Matters on Tuesday below.