Two weeks after seeming to take the side of a "sexual educator" who advocated giving birth control to middle school children, "Good Morning America" co-anchor Diane Sawyer exhorted the same position on Monday's show. Sawyer discussed the case of a Maine school system voting to allow contraceptives to be given to children as young as 11 with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. The GMA journalist operated from the assumption that such activity can't be stopped. She asked O'Reilly, "Yes, but if they're sexually active anyway, at some point, don't you have to address the reality of what is going on in the schools?"
The ABC co-host tried to minimize the fact that parents won't be told specifically when birth control is given by claiming, "Well, but they've told the parents birth control pills may be given as part as the overall health." O'Reilly mocked that justification as "insane." On October 17, Sawyer discussed the issue with conservative commentator Glenn Beck and lectured, "You may not like it. You may want parents to go in and take care of their own children and make sure that they're not sexually active that young, but it's happening. It's happening."
On another topic, Sawyer quizzed O'Reilly, who was appearing to promote his new book, "Kids are Americans Too," about the 2008 presidential race. She prefaced a question about Obama and Edwards getting tough on Hillary Clinton by asserting, "All right. This is 'take down Hillary' week, I believe, isn't it, George?" The reference to "George" apparently meant GMA guest-co-host George Stephanopoulos, who, one assumes was standing just off camera. (Sawyer looked in that direction.) O'Reilly couldn't resist mocking the obvious affection that the former Clinton operative-turned journalist still has for his former bosses. He quipped, "Who's taking down Hillary? You doing that, Stephanopoulos? You traitor." Sawyer could only frantically indicate that she meant other Democrats are trying to attack Mrs. Clinton. (As an example of Stephanopoulos's continuing ties with the Clintons, GMA audiences will remember that in late September he mentioned, on-air, the talking points e-mails that Hillary Clinton's camp sent him during a debate.
A transcript of the October 29 segment, which aired at 7:40am, follows:
[Brief clip of O'Reilly Factor]
DIANE SAWYER: That's Bill O'Reilly doing what all of his viewers love, taking on the powerful, the former president of Mexico there. But now he is taking on a new constituency. His new book is called "Kids are Americans Too." And he is hauling some teens into the "No Spin Zone." Bill O'Reilly, examining the rights teenagers have in the Constitution. When do they have more right than adults? What about against their parents? What about against their schools, particularly on things like dress codes? Here he is, Emmy winner, best selling author, host of the "O'Reilly Factor," Bill O'Reilly."
BILL O'REILLY: Diane, thanks for having me in.
SAWYER: Good to have you here. So, I want to put up a picture. I want to put up a picture. Can we see it there? At the age of what?
O'REILLY: 12. [Laughs] No, that is my high school. I don't think it was a graduation picture, around there, yeah.
SAWYER: Yeah. So, what kind of kid were you? Crossing the line?
O'REILLY: I was a little, little thug. And my father, recognizing the fact that I was headed to the penitentiary, put me in a very strict private school in Long Island called Chaminade. And, you know, they whipped me into shape there, a lot of discipline there, gotta wear a jacket and tie everyday. And for a kid like me, that's what I needed. And so, then I had to have the hair that looked like Paul Anka. That's what that picture is.
SAWYER: That's your idol there. All right. And you were a high school teacher for a couple years.
O'REILLY: Yes, I was.
SAWYER: Worked around teens for a lot. So your premise really seems to be that kids should know when they have fewer rights than adults, when they have more rights, and what they are.
O'REILLY: It's brutal in public schools today, Diane. There's a culture war in the class room. For example, a teacher can walk in and can say, "You pray right now." The teacher gets fired. Teacher can walk in and say, "Your country is evil. America is evil." Nothing will happen to the teacher. And kids from traditional, conservative homes are going, "whoa." Kid can walk in with the pants down to the thighs, all right, and everybody is going, what is this? "I can dress the way I want." No, you can't.
SAWYER: Well, let me ask you about that, because a number of communities have been trying to combat this. Some of them have even passed, sort of, community statutes. I think there are billboards up that say, "Pull 'em up. Pull 'em up." Do these communities have the right under the law, how are the courts ruling to make kids pull up their pants?
O'REILLY: But that's just so dumb. Of course they do. I mean, the parents have a right to make the kid pull up the pants, and then when the kids going to school, the principal goes, "Hey! You! That's inappropriate dress. Either knock it off or you're suspended." Where did we lose control of the children?
SAWYER: Well, the general premise under which they're acting though is disrupting the classroom, disrupting the school.
O'REILLY: That's right. They're there to learn.
SAWYER: Let me ask you this. If a girl shows up in a full abaya, because it's her religious belief to show up in a full abaya.
O'REILLY: You can't do that because you're intruding your religion on everybody else. You can't do that.
SAWYER: You can't show up in the full abaya? Even if it's your religious practice?
O'REILLY: Not if the principal deems that it's distraction and its causing all kinds of chaos in the classroom. It depends on-- Look, the school board and the principals have authority. They can make the rules. So, if they say you can have a burqa, then it's okay. Look what's going on in Maine. Do you know what's going on in Maine, in Portland, Maine? They're giving 11-year-old girls birth control pills and not telling the parents. The school board voted 7-2 to do that. Now whose rights are being violated there? Well, it's not the kids' rights.
SAWYER: Well, but they've told the parents birth control pills may be given as part as the overall health.
O'REILLY: So, maybe we'll do it and maybe we won't. And maybe your kid will get it and maybe your kid won't. That's insane. It's insane. Look, all of these rights are interconnected. The kids rights, the parents rights and the school's rights. That's why its so confusing.
SAWYER: But these children, if these girls, and I think most of them are older then 11, are sexually active anyway--
O'REILLY: Yeah, but they can get it at 11. They can get it at 11.
SAWYER: Yes, but if they're sexually active anyway, at some point, don't you have to address the reality of what is going on in the schools?
O'REILLY: Yeah. You have to address the reality, but you have to keep the parents in the loop. Because if you don't, what about parental rights to supervise your child? And what's the message is sends, Diane, to 11-year-olds? What's the message the public school is sending to 11-year-olds? "Hey, you want to have sex? Come down see the nurse. We'll make it happen." That's the message. So, look, this is a complicated issue for both parents, teachers, and kids. And that's why I wrote the darned book. You know, I gotta stay up to the middle of the night to write these things. I don't need the money, but I'm so, I'm so crazed about it because, as you pointed out, I used to be a teacher. But now, you go into the public schools and it's just crazy. It's just a wild zone where nobody knows what the rules are. How did that happen?
SAWYER: All right. It's a real-- It's a real education, I've gotta say.
O'REILLY: Thank you for reading it, Diane. You're one of the few that actually reads the books. I want everyone to know that. Not just a pretty face here, ladies and gentlemen.
SAWYER: And thanks for the pretty face, too. I gotta ask about politics before you go here.
SAWYER: All right. This is take down Hillary week, I believe, isn't it, George? [Turns to an apparent off camera Stephanopoulos]
O'REILLY: Who's taking down Hillary? You doing that, Stephanopoulos? You traitor. Is he doing that? I'll slap him.
SAWYER: No! Out there-- Out there on campaign trail, all of the --
O'REILLY: Who's taking down Hillary? I'm outraged!
SAWYER: Obama, Edwards all going after--
O'REILLY: Oh, the Democrats!
SAWYER: So, can Obama, this week, turn it around? Does he have another round in him?
O'REILLY: Of course not. This is ridiculous. What is his poll, 18 percent? Look, Obama, and I told him this, face-to-face, Tyra Banks ain't going to get you elected. Okay? You gotta go on "The Factor." You gotta go on GMA and answer the questions. What has he been doing for six months? I guess he's been at Club Med? I haven't seen him. Have you seen him?
SAWYER: Let me ask you a about the Republicans. 41 percent, you quote this, of the Americans can't name a Republican.
O'REILLY: I know, 41 percent of Americans can't name a Republican, because they're so exciting, Diane. These guys are so exciting, aren't they? Of course, they can't name them. I mean, they're like B-characters out of "Dracula Has Risen From the Grave."
SAWYER: But who they can name, and right now it looks if he keeps gaining at the rate he's gaining, Stephen Colbert by the end of November could be the leading candidate.
O'REILLY: First of all, first of all, Colbert should sending a huge check to Pat Paulson's estate. You remember Pat Paulson of the "Smothers Brothers?" He steals this thing. He's selling his dopey book. Don't have him on, by the way. Don't have him on.
SAWYER: Too late.
O'REILLY: And this is just a publicity stunt to mock the country. And Colbert doesn't have the cajones to face me. That's all I'm telling Colbert right now.
SAWYER: You were on his show.
O'REILLY: I was on his show, but we invited him on for his stupid book, you know? But he knows the book is dumb. So, he's not going to come in. Instead, he runs for president. He's not winning anything. The guy's a great promoter. He is. He's a great promoter.
SAWYER: All right. Bill O'Reilly, a book here, "Kids Are Americans Too." And he stayed up all night writing this.
O'REILLY: I did.
SAWYER: You have got to buy it. But it really is interesting. Make sure you--
O'REILLY: Thank you, Diane. I appreciate it.
SAWYER: An excerpt of his book is on ABCNews.com.