O'Reilly vs. The Doc

Editor's Note: What follows is a transcript of the Feb. 17 broadcast of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, in which Bill O'Reilly debated Marsha Rosenbaum, director of the drug education program at the Drug Policy Alliance.

O'Reilly: In the "Impact" segment tonight, last New Year's Eve, police arrested a dentist Paul Paxon and his wife Christine in a suburb north of New York City, for allowing their 18-year-old daughter to hold a party where alcohol was present and so were 50 underage teenagers. The case will be heard next May. But joining us now from San Francisco is Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum, the author of the book, Safety First: A Reality-based Approach to Teens, Drugs, and Drug Education.

So you say that maybe this dentist and his wife didn't do anything wrong?

Marsha Rosenbaum: Well, what we know is that despite 2.5 decades now of trying to get teenagers to just say no to alcohol and other drugs, 77 percent of high school students by the time they graduate, have at least tried alcohol.

We know that the prevalence of alcohol is there, even in the best of families. For example, the – President Bush and his wife, their daughters were caught with underage – for underage drinking recently. And so we know it's prevalent.

The question is: What is the most immediate danger that underage drinking poses?

And what we know is that in surveys, 17 percent of 16 to 20-year-olds admit that they drove drunk, and 2,400 teenagers die each year in automobile accidents resulting from alcohol, and so...

O'Reilly: So, what are you saying, that parents should provide alcohol to their children ...

No, but – no, Bill, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that if we – if teenagers are not just saying no, matter what we do, we have to have a fall-back strategy ...

O'Reilly: Which is what?

... a Plan B, if you will.

O'Reilly: What is it?

It has to focus on safety. We have to keep teenagers out of cars. I think designated driver programs are a good example of how we can do that here in the Bay area. The American Red Cross, for example, sponsors the Safe Rides programs.

O'Reilly: All right. Nobody – nobody opposes that, and, if there's some kid who's loaded, obviously, you don't want him in the car, and you can give him a ride home. But these – this couple – this is outrageous, and it's not just them. It happens all over the country. They allow their child ...

It does.

O'Reilly: Look, here in New York they raised the drinking age from 18 to 21 because of all the chaos among teenagers who got drunk, all right? So this couple said, 'yes, you can have a New Year's Eve party,' and 50 kids showed up because they're e-mailing everybody that there was booze down there. The parents knew ...

And cell phones.

O'Reilly: The parents knew there was booze down there, in fact, went down and did what you suggested, if anybody needs a ride home, we'll give you a ride home, but ...

Right. They took the car keys away. That's crucial.

O'Reilly: ... the fact – well, what's crucial is that they allowed their home, OK, to be a place where 50 kids were in various stages of inebriation. Now, is that OK, doctor?

So they made a calculated decision ...

O'Reilly: Yes.

... that their children were safer at home ...

O'Reilly: No!

... than they would be if they got in the car ...

O'Reilly: They made a calculated decision that they would allow a booze party in the cellar. That's the decision they made.

They knew – no, they – it was New Year's Eve. They knew these kids would be drinking anyway. So the question was in the cellar or getting into a car and going to the park, the beach or some other public place.

O'Reilly: So you think the authorities are wrong to prosecute this couple?

Oh, I absolutely do. I think that we – when parents are faced with immediate danger, they make decisions based on safety.

O'Reilly: Well, don't have the party. Don't have the party and don't let your daughter – underage daughter – if you can't trust her to stay sober, she stays home and watches Dick Clark or whoever's on.

Well, that would be nice, but many of the kids say ...

O'Reilly: That would be nice?

... I'm going out, I won't be drinking.

O'Reilly: That's what I would do.


O'Reilly: The kids says he's going out. I'm saying, 'no, you're not going,' and, if the kid defies me, he doesn't come back.

OK. Well, that's your choice. Some kids say they're going out and they are going out ...

O'Reilly: Well, if you can't trust the kid, you can't trust – but, look, what I'm trying to – this is what I don't understand. It's against the law to do what these parents did, all right. I understand your thesis, but I think your thesis is basically fostering law breaking.

And I'll give you the last word.

Well, I think that the problem for us parents these days is that we don't have a choice. The kids are making their own decisions. When you ask teenagers themselves will they stop drinking if they no longer have a safe place to hang out, they say, no, they'll take the party to the beach, the park.

O'Reilly: Then they're not living in my house, doc. I'll tell you that. If there's a kid getting loaded in my house and he won't stop – out. We appreciate your point of view. Very provocative. Thank you.

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