Bill O'Reilly has already blamed Whitney Houston for contributing to her own death – but now he's got an additional culprit in her premature demise: the media.
"Name me one media commentator outside myself who said, 'Hey, Whitney, you better knock it off or you're gonna be in the ground,'" the host of FOX News' "The O'Reilly Factor" told TODAY's Matt Lauer Thursday. "They exploited (her addiction).... They're supposed to be in the business of telling the truth. And the truth is, if you get into hard drugs, you can go any time."
O'Reilly echoed his statements from Monday, saying "I don't believe that anyone is a slave to addiction.... You have free will and you can get through the disease, as millions of people have chosen to do.... You don't have free will when you have lung cancer. You do have free will when you're a crack addict.... We, the media, looked the other way in the death of Whitney Houston. Everyone knew she was a drug addict for two decades."
Although investigators have recently begun looking closer at Houston's medications, there has been no cause of death announced for the singer.
The two men got into a heated debate over just what the media's role is in celebrity addiction. O'Reilly believes that objective journalism is not part of the equation when someone is on drugs. "(Coverage) wasn't put in any kind of judgmental capacity at all," said O'Reilly. "It was, 'Oh, look at this, now she goes to rehab.' It wasn't, 'Hey, Whitney, knock it off.'"
And while a TODAY.com poll revealed that nearly 88% of readers objected to lowering the flags to half-staff in New Jersey, as Gov. Chris Christie plans to do on Saturday, O'Reilly said he supports the governor's decision: "We should respect the life and talent of Whitney Houston," he told Lauer. "This isn't a personal thing. This is a preventative thing. I want society and the media to tell the truth about drug and alcohol addiction.... Let's stop exploiting it and start explaining it."
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