Bill O’Reilly’s “Best Friends”

Joe Sonka

Bill O'Reilly gives a D.C.-based abstinence-only advocate a platform to spout false talking points about sexuality education.

When it comes to sex, one would think that Bill O’Reilly would not
attempt to take the moral high ground. With his checkered past of being
sued for sexual harassment and the recent heat he’s taken for blaming young victims of sexual violence, Bill O’Reilly does not exactly come off as the most credible person in the world on this subject.

But hypocrisy is no stranger to O’Reilly, as he chose to give a softball interview
to Elayne Bennett from the D.C. abstinence-only group Best Friends, in
order to show the "success" of abstinence-only education.

What set O’Reilly off was a column in Newsweek on abstinence-only funding by Anna Quindlen,
who he referred to as "a big pro-abortion woman". O’Reilly claimed that
he invited Quindlen on the show to defend her column and that she
declined.

In O’Reilly’s softball interview with Bennett, he gave her a platform to dispense a handful of false talking points.

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O’REILLY: But how is this set up? How is your abstinence teaching
set up? In D.C. the pregnancy rate for girls age 15 to 19 has fallen by
more than 50 percent from 1991 to 2006, right?
BENNETT: That’s wonderful. It’s a wonderful success story.
O’REILLY: OK. And you attribute that to what?
BENNETT: I have to attribute it to the advent of abstinence education.

Really? Considering the fact that D.C. public and charter schools
are required to teach a more comprehensive sex education and only a
small percentage were in Bennett’s program, this might be a bit of a
stretch in logic, no?

But let’s try looking at the time period in which Bennett’s Best Friends received $3 million in federal CBAE funding, from 2004-2007,
shall we? Has this increase in funding for abstinence-only education in
D.C. produced results? Yes it has, and not the good kind. As Newshounds pointed out, among the 15-24 age group in D.C. from 2003 to 2007, Syphilis cases went up 233%, and Chlamydia cases went up 94%.

Does Bennett take credit for that? Not that O’Reilly brought that up, of course. Nor did he mention the definitive independent Mathematica
study of 2007 that showed abstinence-only programs do not delay sexual
activity among teens or other studies that have shown that students who
receive this "education" are less likely to use contraception.

O’Reilly also let Bennett present her organization as a beacon of
success, as she claimed that "only 10% of our students in DC public
schools are sexually active". Well, let’s take a look at Best Friends
and how this "10%" number is a gross distortion.

Young people choose to be in Best Friends. They are not randomly
selected to participate. Those young people that do self select to join
an abstinence group are clearly more inclined to be abstinent than
those who don’t. If you decide to join an abstinence group, guess what?
You’re more into abstinence than your fellow students. Just like those
who decide to join the school football team are likely to be stronger
or better at football than those who don’t.

Also, Best Friends conveniently doesn’t count the students who
drop out of the program after becoming pregnant, or are kicked out
after their fellow students tell Best Friends’ leadership that they are
having sex. These two factors, which O’Reilly of course wasn’t going to
mention, make the "10%" number virtually meaningless.

O’Reilly then shifted the conversation to those who want comprehensive sex education, asking the most loaded question ever: "Why would they want – why would they want kids to have sex? Why? What’s the upside of that for them?"

Bennett: You know what the liberal elites are all about. They
don’t really want to provide choice. They’re not interested in
supporting the 51 percent of students who are not sexually active. They
have a mindset that, well, it’s unrealistic.

Of course, Bennett’s talking point that comp sex ed is against
choice and assumes that all kids will have sex is completely false.
Comprehensive sex education programs teach both the benefits of
refraining from sex, as well as the information they would need if they
do become sexually active. Many have been proven more effective
at helping young people delay sex than failed abstinence-only programs.
We respect the intelligence of young people by giving them all of the
information they need to protect themselves.

O’Reilly ended the interview with the real kicker, revealing that
he has been associated with Bennett’s group for years (hence the kid
gloves approach with her, as I’m sure Quindlen would not have received).

In the end, Bennett commended O’Reilly for his work and claimed
that "our students have great admiration for you, Bill." One needs to
question just what it is that they admire. Is it the fact that O’Reilly
has been accused of sexual harassment? That he used his show to blame a young woman for her own rape and murder (it was her miniskirt!)? Or maybe that he sent his producer to stalk a young female blogger who had dared to criticize him?

Surely, Mr. O’Reilly is an odd choice for Ms. Bennett to peddle as a role model for these young women. 

(ALSO – Best Friends just received another CBAE grant for the next 6 years which will total over $3 million dollars. Be sure to contact President Obama, who is finalizing his first budget, and tell him that we need to cut the funding of these ineffective programs. Also tell your Congressional representatives!)

This post first appeared on Amplify.

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