…it turns out there are yet further depths to his heartless, reactionary depravity. He and his guest Greta van Susteren were discussing the case of 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, a boy who has just been found after being held captive by for four years by 41-year-old Michael Devlin, and all O'Reilly could do was accuse the kid of not escaping because he had "a lot more fun then when he had under his own parents. He didn't have to go to school; he could run around and do what he wanted." No matter how much van Susteren tries to point out that Hornbeck's just a kid, that victims of abductions are often held in thrall by torture and threats, that not all kids hate school, and that piercings are no indication that he enjoyed being kidnapped (sigh), O'Reilly won't budge: "I think when it all comes down, what's going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances."
(Watch the video at Crooks and Liars or Media Matters, which also provides a transcript.)
Mind you, neither O'Reilly nor van Susteren even veer close to addressing what the likely circumstances of Hornbeck's abduction actually were. All O'Reilly can see is that this kid didn't make hay of escape opportunities, so he must be a lazy, impudent brat who simply enjoyed not being made to go to school, because apparently he lives in some fucking fantasyland where a 41-year-old man kidnaps an 11-year-old boy for some other reason than abject ugliness we can only begin to imagine.
When some of his viewers criticized O'Reilly for this horseshit, he then said on the following day's broadcast: "I actually hope I'm wrong about Shawn Hornbeck. I hope he did not make a conscious decision to accept his captivity because Devlin made things easy for him. No school, play all day long."
So, apparently, Bill O'Reilly hopes that Devlin terrorized a child so thoroughly that he stayed against his will. What. The. Fuck.
He then continued: "But to just chalk this up to brainwashing and walk away is turning away from the true danger of child molesters and abductors. All American children must be taught survival skills, must be prepared to face crisis situations. That is the lesson of the Shawn Hornbeck story."
The lesson of this story is that American children must be taught survival skills. Uh-huh. Because if an 11-year-old boy has "survival skills," then presumably he can escape with no problem from a 6'4", 300-pound man who's fucking with your head and your body. How fucking stupid is Bill O'Reilly? (And, while I'm asking rhetorical questions, what chance do you think his wrinkled old ass has of getting away from that guy? I'd say somewhere between slim to none, but evidently that doesn't stop him from suggesting a teensy wee kid should be able to manage it.) I guess it would be far too much for his puny little brain to engage the thought that adaptability is not only one of humankind's greatest attributes, but also one of our strongest survival strategies—and kids especially manage to adapt to all kinds of grotesquery if they can be convinced their survival depends on it. If he had, he might realize that what appeared to him to be Hornbeck's preference for the kidnapped highlife might well have been in actuality his using "survival skills" after all.
Worst of all is O'Reilly's feigned ignorance about the scores of children who are trapped in abusive families and fail to leave. Kids who are beaten, molested, berated, manipulated, starved, and ignored by their own parents still go to school, still ride their bikes around the block, still play with friends. Does O'Reilly think that, ultimately, there's just "an element these kids like about their circumstances"? Same for battered adult partners who don't leave? Where, pray tell, does O'Reilly's victim-blaming stop?