Early this morning, the 77-year-old senator died from brain cancer, leaving behind a 46-year legacy in the U.S. Senate.

Ted Kennedy was a dominant force in American politics, but also a controversial one. His legacy breaks down along ideological lines. Liberal Americans revere him. Conservatives, generally speaking, thought he was misguided, and sometimes worse. Unfortunately, there have been some vicious postings on the Internet about Sen. Kennedy. They are disgraceful.

If you're a religious person, you know the Bible states quite clearly that personal judgments should be made by God and God alone. All of us are flawed, and none of us have the right to demean a public servant who has just died. What is legitimate is an honest look at Sen. Kennedy's record, and we will do that this evening.

There is no question that the Chappaquiddick incident, where a young woman drowned in Kennedy's car, haunted the senator throughout his life. On the other hand, Kennedy was responsible for some excellent legislation, including increasing cancer research and joining with President Bush to get the No Child Left Behind legislation passed. Kennedy, of course, was a liberal and proud of it:


SEN. TED KENNEDY: I have often been called a liberal, and it usually was not meant to be a compliment. But I remember what my brother said about liberalism shortly before he was elected president. He said, if by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people, if that is what they mean by a liberal, I am proud to be a liberal.


"Talking Points" believes the senator was well-intentioned in public policy, but made a singular mistake that liberals often make: He did not apply discipline to his programs.

The disastrous McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, for example, did not secure the border or provide assurances that criminal aliens would be deported. It was a pure amnesty play, and most Americans quickly rejected it. The senator also held up the Sex Offender and Registration Act in 2006 until "The Factor" reasoned with him. Once Kennedy got on board, it quickly became law.

In 1962, Kennedy was elected to the Senate, taking his brother's place after JFK was elected president. Ted Kennedy had the third longest tenure in the Senate ever.

So like him or not, he was a patriot, a man who was well thought of by conservatives like Sen. Orrin Hatch and even Laura Ingraham.

I said a prayer for Sen. Kennedy and his family today, and it was sincere.

And that's "The Memo."

Pinheads & Patriots

We respect most legitimate protests here, and last Sunday was "National Go Topless Protest Day." The point of the exercise was to protest the inequality of the law when it comes to men and women baring their chests.

While we don't see that as much of an issue, we could be wrong. You can decide whether the ladies are patriots.

On the pinhead front, a media story worth watching. The National Broadcasting Corporation, NBC, is on the verge of collapse. If Jay Leno fails at 10 p.m. this fall, the entire NBC operation will be doomed for another year.

NBC President Jeff Zucker has ruined that once-fine company, and now desperation is setting in. Not only is the NBC network in last place, but their cable operations are a disaster. CNBC is down 23 percent this August, year to year. MSNBC down 25 percent. Incredibly, NBC continues to lie about their ratings, saying that MSNBC is actually prospering. Here's the truth: Megyn Kelly and Bill Hemmer's program on FOX News at 9 a.m. beat MSNBC's 8 p.m. hour by a whopping 37 percent. I mean, how embarrassing is that?

Tuesday night on MSNBC someone said that people who watch FOX News are paranoid and racist. That should tell you everything you need to know about the entire NBC situation. Pinhead does not even begin to cover it.

You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads & Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com