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Why Is a Murderer Playing in a Prison Rock Band and Appearing on VH1?

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, October 15, 2002. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST:   In the Back of the Book segment tonight, on October 18th, VH1 will debut a program called Music Behind Bars, and one of the featured rock groups is a killer named Christopher Bissey, convicted of murdered 15-year-old Mary Orlando and 17-year-old Jennifer Grider.  He's serving life in a state correctional institution at Graterford in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Now this has outraged Mary's mother, also named Mary Orlando, and Pennsylvania State Rep. T.J. Rooney, who has introduced legislation that would urge VH1 to donate any profits made by the program to victims assistant centers.  They both join us now from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

All right.  Look, I've to tell you that we tried to get VH1 on here, and they've been complete weasels.  We're not surprised.  That network -- that cable network has been going downhill for years.  They are going to run this thing.

And how do you feel about it, Ms. Orlando?

MARY ORLANDO, DAUGHTER MURDERED IN 1995:  Well, I'm not happy about it at all.

O'REILLY:  I know you have a sore throat.

ORLANDO:  Yes.

O'REILLY:  I'll tell the audience you have a sore threat.  Why aren't -- you know, what is it about this that has upset you?

ORLANDO:  Everything really.  I -- when they were in -- when you do -- let me -- when you have a trial and they're -- you think they're in jail, they're not -- shouldn't be on TV, you know, and I just -- it really upset me.

I was just went -- I was flipping the channels, and I seen this on television flashing, "Music Behind Bars," and I was really upset.  So I called T.J. Rooney about it, and he went from there.

But I just -- just can't believe they'd -- they would allow them to even film -- go into the prison and...

O'REILLY:  Yes.  I mean, this is what's wrong with the prison system, that a killer like this -- and tell us a little bit about how this crime took place, Ms. Orlando.  Your daughter and, I guess, her friend, Jennifer...

ORLANDO:  Yes.

O'REILLY:  And what happened them?

ORLANDO:  They were at a look -- the lookout at Lehigh University, and they were sitting on the wall.  Jennifer was eating, and it was a drive-by shooting, and he killed two girls.

O'REILLY:  All right.  So he just -- was there any reason for it, or was he trying to shoot somebody else?

ORLANDO:  Well, they're -- they say that one -- Jen owed money, but there was never any motive.  Nothing like that was ever proven.

O'REILLY:  Just a random killing.

ORLANDO:  Yes.

O'REILLY:  And this guy, Bissey, had a long record, Mr. Rooney.  He's a thug and got put away for life, and now we find out that he's having a good time, practicing with the band, is going to get national exposure on television.

T.J. ROONEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE:  Sure.  He was sentenced to a double life sentence, and, on Friday evening, thanks to VH1 and Viacom and VH1, he'll make his national television debut.

O'REILLY:  And this is what's wrong with the system, is that we have killers who go into prisoners, and then they have amenities and hobbies and everything else when they should be doing hard labor.

So what I'd like to see you do, Mr. Rooney, is try to clean up the punitive system in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  You know what I mean?

ROONEY:  Well, Bill, you're absolutely right.  There is no question about it.  This person is not going to see the light of day.  And, you know, where I fault VH1 --

And we can get to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.  I spoke to the governor before I came on the air with you this evening.

But the fact of the matter is this guy was sentenced, he took the lives, and, in my view and I think the view of most Pennsylvanians, the more compelling stories are the stories of the lives of Mary Orlando and Jennifer Grider.

And it's important to know, Bill, that there are going to be -- there were over 40 inmates filmed during the production of this show that will air Friday night.

O'REILLY:  And these people are in there for heinous crimes.  This isn't a minimum-security prison.  And they're almost being glorified by VH1.

Now the argument is, Mr. Rooney, that, if you give these prisoners a reason to live, they will be less inclined to do damage inside prison, more cooperative, that kind of a thing.  Do you see any merit in that argument?

ROONEY:  It's a specious argument, and when you think about it -- now it -- I think, in a lot of respects, you have to classify those convicts into segments.  One, the people who would never see the light of day, and others who will.

And for those whose sentence will permit them to be released at some point in time -- in my view and I think the view that's shared by most Pennsylvanians, it would make more sense to teach these folks a trade, perhaps teach them how to fix an automobile, or...

O'REILLY:  Yes, but, in this case with this guy, he should be doing hard labor.  He should be doing hard labor, not playing the drums, not being photographed singing rock music.  He should be doing hard labor.  You don't take two human beings' lives and get to be in a rock group.  Do you know what I mean?

ORLANDO:  Yes.

ROONEY:  There's no question.  And Mary says -- and I don't want to speak for her, but the fact of the matter is her daughter, Mary, loved music.  She was a prolific dancer as a young girl...

O'REILLY:  Right.  I mean, it's horrible.

ROONEY:  And Mary Orlando can no longer dance because, unfortunately, this guy who took her life -- I mean, Mary's in a grave, and this guy's going to make his national TV debut.

O'REILLY:  Right.  Well, I'm going to call for all people watching to call VH1 in New York City where their offices are and to lodge a complaint with Viacom, the parent company, in written form.  And anything you're going to do, Mr. Rooney, we should know about?

ROONEY:  We sure are.  I've written a letter to Sumner Redstone.  I've asked him to donate the ad revenues generated from this show to the Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate, and, as a show of protest, Bill, we're going to have a candlelight vigil while this show airs in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

O'REILLY:  All right.  Good work.  And we're very sorry, Ms. Orlando, that...

ORLANDO:  Thank you.

O'REILLY:  ... that you had to go through this ordeal, and we will take care of VH1 on The Radio Factor tomorrow as well.  We'll give you more information on how to get in touch with Mr. Redstone, the CEO of Viacom.  Thank you both very much.

ROONEY:  Thank you.

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