I dunno: I would be far more worried about Vermont if we drew Fox's Bill O'Reilly's praise rather than his off-the-wall condemnation. And remember: last time he led a boycott against Vermont, our tourism dollars INcreased. And if you're wondering about Bill's "championing" for exploited children, read my earlier post where he makes one teen sound like the kid "liked" being kidnapped and held.
From the (Barre/Montpelier) Times-Argus:
Another year, another national condemnation of Vermont by right-wing cable talk show host Bill O'Reilly.
This time, the Fox News commentator is calling a Bennington County judge and prosecutor "villains" for their parts in sentencing a sex offender last week.
Unlike the furor that was unleashed almost exactly a year ago when now-retired Chittenden Superior Court Judge Edward Cashman initially sentenced a sex offender to a minimum of two months in jail for repeatedly assaulting a child, the state's top elected officials are defending the Bennington County plea deal.
"Public safety and protecting our communities from sexual offenders has been and will continue to be a top priority for this administration," said Jason Gibbs, Gov. James Douglas' press secretary. "But the governor will not comment on the woefully uninformed opinion of one talking head."
O'Reilly – who featured the Cashman decision last year on several shows in which he called for a national boycott of Vermont – again took aim at justice in the Green Mountain State. On his Monday "O'Reilly Factor" – the top-rated "news" show on cable television – he said that the Bennington County case was "another atrocity in Vermont. Is there any excuse for this? How could this happen in America?"
The prosecutor in the case, Deputy Bennington County State's Attorney Andrew Costello, stood behind his decision to offer a plea deal that allows Andrew C. James to avoid jail time after admitting to sexually assaulting a 4-year-old boy. His office said Tuesday that given the constraints in the case – there were no other witnesses and no physical evidence linking James to the crime – obtaining a conviction that puts James under a lifetime of supervision was "the best we could do."
He rebuffed O'Reilly's criticism – and that of former Rutland County state Sen. Wendy Wilton, who, as during the Cashman controversy, appeared on the talk show Monday night – as ill-informed.
"I think what he did here was jump to conclusions about the case and its resolution without really knowing anything about it at all," Costello said. "For Bill O'Reilly, this wasn't about the facts, it was jumping to conclusions. It's what he does."
"Look, I think initially, when you just look at what this man was charged with and look at the resolution of the case, I understand how this can seem outrageous," he continued. "But when you know the facts, and once that's explained to people, they understand. To take this kind of criticism from someone who doesn't even know what he's criticizing is disheartening."