The glaring contradiction in conservative rhetoric between the hostility toward contraception and the endless hand-wringing about single motherhood so often goes unchallenged in cable news discourse that James Carville was able to get Bill O’Reilly to go into a rhetorical death spiral just by bringing it up on Thursday. O’Reilly was running his mouth with the usual race-baiting talking points that incorrectly assume that rising numbers of births to legally unmarried women means that huge numbers of women are raising children alone when he proposed that the federal government fund (with money!) a campaign to tell young women to stop having all of the sex. Carville took this as a fun opportunity to provoke O’Reilly’s notorious dislike for contraception by pointing out that any kind of campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy should include contraception and sex education.
Watching O’Reilly try to reconcile his “contraception is bad” position with his “stop having babies” position is delightful. First he attempted to deny that contraception, which he associates with sex, has anything to do with baby-making:
Carville: I think the idea that the federal government is going to tell a 17-year-old that you just wait and you don’t have sex—I don’t think that’s going to be effective.
O’Reilly: It has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with getting pregnant.
After Carville pointed out the fundamental problem with this argument, O’Reilly changed tactics, claiming that you can just go to Planned Parenthood and get contraception. When Carville noted that this is a funding issue—alluding to the fact that the anti-choice movement O’Reilly supports attacks any effort to make contraception more accessible—O’Reilly flipped out: “So, you don’t want peer pressure brought, you want to fund, fund, fund! More money, more money!”
He added, “Why don’t we just have the Good Humor man have contraception on the ice cream truck?” before giving more details about what his proposed “federal program” to discourage unmarried motherhood would entail: Having Jay Z tell young women not to have sex.
O’Reilly: It’s going to discourage! Actively discourage! Peer pressure! Jay Z, the multimillion-dollar man—have him get out and do a couple public service announcements.
Sadly, Carville did not have a chance to ask any of the pertinent follow-up questions, but I have a few: 1) Why does O’Reilly think that the 43-year-old Jay Z is a “peer” to the young women the Fox News star would dearly love to stop having sex? 2) If a federally funded Jay Z had dropped a line to O’Reilly in 2004 to discourage the then-married man from calling up a female colleague to invite her over for potentially pregnancy-causing activities, would that have stopped him? I’m not being flip. I just want to understand how this rappers-against-sex program is expected to work.