The Houston Chronicle Strikes Back

The Houston Chronicle strikes back, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

On Tuesday, I criticized the newspaper for publishing an editorial that said "Florida's sex offender law...[is] not the best way to stop sexual predators from preying on children."

Now I disagree with that. I think the law named after the murdered child Jessica Lunsford (search) is a good one. Sentence of 25 years to life is the best way, in my opinion, to stop predators.

Well today, the Houston Chronicle (search) replied in an editorial called "The No-Facts Zone," which blistered me for allegedly misleading you. The paper said, "O'Reilly told his viewers that the Chronicle editorial said the Florida law was too harsh. He was mistaken. The editorial excerpts that O'Reilly projected on the screen said nothing about the harshness of the punishment."

Well, that's true. I form my opinion by reading the entire editorial, which ended this way. "Although some compulsive offenders can only be contained rather than cured, counseling reduces recidivism."

Well, call me crazy, but I believe those words indicate a stance that calls for less punishment and more rehab of child molesters. Maybe I'm wrong.

I was wrong about one thing in my initial report. I misquoted the editorial in assessing what regular folks can do to protect kids. My mistake, no excuses.

But all of this analysis would be unnecessary if the Houston Chronicle would accept our invitation to discuss the paper's stance on punishing child molesters. However, the Chronicle is afraid. They will not appear. That's because there's a history here.

Last New Year's Eve, the Chronicle objected to local authorities failing to release 561 convicted sex offenders so they could go home for Thanksgiving dinner. The paper said, "Enforcing virtual holiday house arrest on certain groups of parolees might sound like a good idea to protect the public. But former prisoners have constitutional rights, too, and we live in a nation where pragmatism and humane tradition encourage the rehabilitation of men and women after they've paid for their wrongdoing."

There's the r-word again regarding sexual offenders. As you know, I'm a simple man with simple questions. Does the Houston Chronicle object to the 25-to-years-to-life punishment in Florida? Yes or no? If no, will the paper campaign for Jessica's law in Texas? Yes or no?

"Talking Points" believes the Chronicle is playing games because so many of its readers are angry over its editorial position. We know the paper's under tremendous pressure.

But as always, we want to be fair. So here's what we've done. If you go to, you can read both the original editorial and the attack on me today. Then you can decide the issue by voting in our new poll question, which asks, "After reading the Houston Chronicle's editorials, do you think the paper is too soft on convicted sex offenders?"

Is that fair or what? You read, you decide. It'll be fun. We'll give you the results on Monday. What say you, the Houston Chronicle? And that's "The Memo."

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