On his eponymous show last night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said that if he had been president, he “would not have made the deal” to exchange Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. “These are top Taliban leaders — enemies who bring death and destruction to thousands,” said O’Reilly.

The Fox News commentator, however, took a detour from the sweeping issues of national security to address the case of Robert Bergdahl, Bowe’s father. O’Reilly: “But it is Robert Bergdahl, the father, who is also engendering some controversy. He has learned to speak Pashto, the language of the Taliban, and looks like a Muslim. He is also somewhat sympathetic to Islam, actually thanking Allah right in front of the president.”

Robert Bergdahl, 54, is indeed an interesting case. According to this account in The Washington Post, his actions and appearance have struck some people as “curious, even troubling. ” And those “some people” include, well, Internet lurkers: “Commenters online asked if the father had become a Taliban sympathizer or converted to radical Islam.”

As for the beard, Robert Bergdahl grew it as a way to mark the time since his son was captured in 2009, and also as an attempt to curry favor with his son’s captors, according to the Post account. He studied Pashto, a national language of Afghanistan, in an effort to familiarize himself with the culture of the place where his son was a prisoner. “I guess you really had to be in his shoes,” said a pastor who had watched Robert Bergdahl deal with his son’s situation. Bergdahl also raised some suspicions with a since-deleted tweet regarding Guantanamo prisoners.

Just some context to append to O’Reilly’s characterization.

 

 

 

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.