O’Reilly Tortures Fox Torture Poll

Fox host Bill O’Reilly has been passionately defending Bush-era torture for some time. But onApril 23 he went further; not only does torture “work,” butit is actually broadly popular, too:

According to a new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, most Americans want tough interrogations of top terror killers. When asked if they would support using torture on Osama bin Laden to get information, 56 percent say they favor doing that, including 42 percent of the Democrats polled. Thirty-nine percent oppose.

So there is little doubt that most Americans believe, in rare cases, tough interrogation is necessary.

A poll thatasks whether Americans support torture Osama bin Laden wouldn’t seem to tell us much; you might as well askif people support torturing Satan.

Butdid Fox really just ask about torturing bin Laden? No. But O’Reillyhad to cite that response, because the other responses fromthe same poll undermine his case. (Itwould appear to be the only relevant Fox poll on their site; it’s a few months old,but thefiguresare the same as those cited by O’Reilly.) In reality, the Fox poll found the public far more ambivalent about torture than Man-of-the-People Bill O’Reilly:

Opinions on the use of torture are sharply divided. Forty-three percent of Americans favor allowing the CIA to use torture in extreme circumstances to obtain information from prisoners that “might protect the United States from terrorist attacks” and 48 percent oppose it. These results are consistent with findings from polling conducted in 2003 and 2002.

The number in favor of allowing the use of torture increases to 56 percent when the suspect in custody is Osama bin Laden.

So do most Americans favor torture captured “top terror killers?” Apparently not:

17. Do you favor or oppose allowing the CIA, in extreme circumstances, to use enhanced interrogation techniques, even torture, to obtain information from prisoners that might protect the United States from terrorist attacks?

Favor 43%
Oppose 48%
(Depends) 7%
(Don’t know) 3%

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.