Bill O'Reilly Makes Millions of Marijuana Arrests Disappear


Fox News

Last month, during a tirade about The Denver Post's decision to hire a marijuana editor, Bill O'Reilly was puzzled by the idea that wine intoxicates people and treated the notion that a newspaper would print bar reviews or cocktail recipes as self-evidently absurd. Yesterday, in another exchange with Fox News commentators Juan Williams and Mary Katharine Ham, O'Reilly revealed that he does not know people get arrested for marijuana possession:

O'Reilly: Primarily, the left embraces the drug culture to some extent….What is it about the drug culture…that's so compelling for some of them?

Williams: Well, I don't think it's compelling, but I think that if you start to arrest their children and give them records and put barriers in front of their futures and their careers, I think people say, "Wait a second." As you said in the previous segment, this is soft drug use. Why are you arresting and giving this kid a record, especially minority kids. Disproportionately, they're the ones who get arrested.

O'Reilly: Only dealers, Juan. There's no mass arrests of users.

Williams: No, no, no, Bill.

Ham: No, users are arrested.

O'Reilly: No, they get a ticket, Juan.

Williams: I don't think that's right, Bill.

O'Reilly: No, it is right.

Williams: And I think lots of people fear for their children. By the way, you should know, it's not just liberals—

O'Reilly: So by your thinking, then, people fear for their children so they want to make drugs more available. Let's legalize them so they don't get a rap sheet.

Williams: No, no, no, I didn't say that. I didn't say more available. I said, listen, the kid gets out there, the kid's involved in soft drugs, by your own definition, gets arrested. Suddenly he's got a record, all sorts of things that would inhibit his or her progress in life.

O'Reilly: It's almost impossible. The records are expunged if they are juveniles. You know what the game is here. This is not a crime that is actively pursued by district attorneys. All right. I'm just going to discount that argument, Juan.

According to the the FBI, police in the United States made about 750,000 marijuana arrests in 2012, the vast majority (87 percent) for simple possession. That is down from a peak of more than 858,000 pot busts in 2009. From 1996 through 2012, there were more than 12 million marijuana arrests, accounting for 44 percent of all drug arrests during that period. More than 11 million of the pot busts involved simple possession. Pace O'Reilly, those are arrests, not tickets. 

Even when police are supposed to issue a citation for possession of small amounts, they may find an excuse for an arrest. In New York City, where O'Reilly works, police managed to make more than 600,000 such arrests from 1996 through 2012, a period when pot busts skyrocketed even though the state legislature decriminalized marijuana possession in 1977. Often marijuana is revealed during a stop-and-frisk encounter, whereupon the cop charges the target with "public display," which is a misdemeanor, as opposed to mere possession, which is a violation.

As Williams pointed out, the people busted for marijuana possession are disproportionately black and Hispanic, even though survey data show whites are just as likely to smoke pot. In New York City, blacks and Hispanics together account for 87 percent of marijuana arrests, and there are similar disparities in other jurisdictions. On average, according to a 2013 ACLU report, blacks are about four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

In Bill O'Reilly's world, none of this is happening, which I suppose helps explain how he can so blithely continue to support marijuana prohibition.

[via Media Matters for America]

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  1. How the fuck does a middle-aged man in a position of authority like O'Reilly not know something as basic as people get arrested for drug use?

    1. Likely uses himself and has memory trouble.

  2. What do you expect from Bill "I'm going to say what I think is true with absolute confidence and certainty and you have to prove it's wrong" O'Reilly.

    1. "Steve G? I'll give you the last word..."

  3. There is much O'Reilly doesn't know and I'm not sure what you mean by 'authority.' He is a talking head and, like some, often his mind is on vacation while his mouth is working overtime. Just like his 'tide comes in, tide goes out' comments a year or so ago.

  4. The tide comes in, the tide goes out - Bill can't explain that....

  5. Billy O is a master at telling people who are very invested in their ignorance that they are the smartest people around. There is always money in that. Shamelessness helps as well. You could present him the numbers from an unimpeachable source and the best case scenario is that he will take off running with the goalposts.

    1. Pray, how does this distinguish O'Reilly from Rachel Maddow, David Brooks, PZ Myers or Paul Krugman?

      1. Not another "if you dislike Person X (on the right), you must support Person Y (on the left)" argument. I thought everyone that would post here, except for Tulpa and Tony and shrike, learned that long ago.

        1. er, learned that "those were terrible arguments" long ago.

        2. ?

          How was I arguing that?

          My point was precisely the opposite: They are indistinguishable.

      2. O'Reilly differs from those "liberals" only in his rhetoric which he professes to be the anti-democrat.

  6. Watching the Smithsonian special on the Concorde plane again. What a fucking magnificent piece of engineering. I REALLY wanted to take a flight on one...but it was grounded before I got the chance 🙁

    Maybe they'll get the private space flights affordable before I die...

    1. There really should have been a market for that.

    2. Maybe if they get a government program to work on it they can get the costs down - like how the Concorde only cost around $8000 a seat!

  7. O'Reilly really is in his own world. Give him almost any topic, and his view of said topic is wrong.

  8. Am I the only person alive who remembers this cad as the host of "A Current Affair?"

  9. Culture warriors gonna culture war.

    I do not purchase cable television service. Instead of being tempted to watch O'Reilly's nutjob antics I can spend that money on (state)legal marijuana instead.

  10. This guy just pulls "facts" out of thin air especially regarding the drug war. He also stated there were studies regarding all the problems stemming from marijuana since legalizing pot in Colorado. Really studies in 6 day's since it's been legalized, hardly. The other guest shot O'Rielly down also when he started giving bogus stats from the NIH which I guess O'Rielly didn't know he was a board member.

  11. Instead of arresting dealers, why fbi arresting users ?

  12. Bull Orally can spin all he wants.
    42% of Americans support him.

  13. Bill O' probably doesn't know that during Prohibition the teen drinking rate went up because alcoholic beverages were illegal.
    Making marijuana (and other drugs) legal to adults on proof of age would reduce (not stop) minors from accessing those drugs. Here's why Mr. O' is a pinhead.

    1. pinheads are those who would enslave kids to drugs by legalizing them. This is why we have the 2nd Amendment for when the land becomes so lawless that we must use force to protect our loved ones from such a horrible fate the cruelty of thoughtless, historically and especialy Biblically illiterate libertarians would provide. All the lies about Prohibition being a failure (it wasn't) forget the inconvenient fact that the liquor industry designed it to fail by not making possession illegal, only transport, creating a disaster so great as to make a drug free America unthinkable, enslaving the people as they were riotously successful in doing, slavery ironically being a popular tool of libertarians.

  14. Bill is such a pin head.

  15. Whatever errors O'Reilly may be guilty of, compared to Sullum's and Fox's vile, evil derangement he's virtuous. The lawless, deviant corruption that would enslave people to drugs by legalizing them is part of that for which the Founders provided the 2nd Amendment, when the law becomes so lawless & degenerate that one's loved ones are no longer protected and we must take things into our own hands to protect them. All that evil needs to triumph is for good people to stand by and do nothing like when degenerate obscenities corrupt and enslave our kids by legalizing drugs and lying with lawless, historical and especially Biblical illiteracy in their libertarian lunacy about what they're really doing.

  16. God, reading these arguments is like being on Reddit.

  17. Are you saying that you want to bring the prohibition of alcohol back along with the increase in organized crime and murders? And how about prohibiting tobacco products, too? That will definitely spawn a multi-billion dollar a year black market, along with real crimes like robbery and murder. As to being a Biblically illiterate Libertarian, I suppose then that you are Bibically literate, which means that you are all for father-daughter incest which is not prohibited in the Bible and God did not punish Lot and his daughters for having sex. Strange, though, God did punish Lot's wife, merely for looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah. And one last thing from the Bible: Sons who do not respect and obey their parents are to be stoned to death. You all for that, too?

    1. My previous comment was addressed to Russ Davis.

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