Fox News right-wing talk show host Bill O’Reilly has a history of making racially insensitive comments (particularly ones directed toward black people). O’Reilly has joined fellow right-wing pundits in attacking Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida, who is an outspoken critic of Republicans. To be fair, Rep. Grayson has rightfully come under fire for a series of comments during which he referred to Linda Robertson, who is an adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, a “K Street whore” as reported by POLITICO. Rep. Grayson has rightfully been smacked around for that one very poor statement and issued the following apology:
“I offer my sincere apology to Linda Robertson, an adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke,” Grayson said in an emailed statement. “I did not intend to use a term that is often, and correctly, seen as disrespectful of women.”
In the emailed statement, Grayson gave further context to the comment, saying it was made “last month in the context of the debate over whether the Federal Reserve should be independently audited, was inappropriate, and I apologize.”
It’s good that he apologized because those kinds of comments are inappropriate.
Now, enter Bill O’Reilly, who has a history of racially insensitive comments, sexist comments and more … with a list of excuses (for such comments) that is at least as long.
Sexist example (O’Reilly’s attack on Helen Thomas and even sexist comment in reference to Sarah Palin, who he clearly likes):
Racism example (a video posted by Dr. Boyce Watkins with excellent notes):
O’Reilly’s right-wing rally energizer Griff Jenkins, again disguised as a legitimate reporter, to attempt to ambush Rep. Grayson, who maintained his cool and instructed Jenkins to request an interview formally (several times). But, quite frankly, Democrats should avoid Fox News until the network cleans up its act and lives up to its now phony billing as being a “fair and balanced” outlet for news.
From Media Matters for America:
O’REILLY: Now, how do we get to this point? Black people in this country understand that they’ve had a very, very tough go of it, and some of them can get past that, and some of them cannot. I don’t think there’s a black American who hasn’t had a personal insult that they’ve had to deal with because of the color of their skin. I don’t think there’s one in the country. So you’ve got to accept that as being the truth. People deal with that stuff in a variety of ways. Some get bitter. Some say, [unintelligible] “You call me that, I’m gonna be more successful.” OK, it depends on the personality.
So it’s there. It’s there, and I think it’s getting better. I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They’re getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They’re just trying to figure it out: “Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.”
You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy. And he comes on The Factor a lot, and then I treated him to dinner, because he’s made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia’s, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful. They all watch The Factor. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like a big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice.
And I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same, and that’s really what this society’s all about now here in the U.S.A. There’s no difference. There’s no difference. There may be a cultural entertainment — people may gravitate toward different cultural entertainment, but you go down to Little Italy, and you’re gonna have that. It has nothing to do with the color of anybody’s skin.
O’REILLY: No, no, I mean, I like that soul food. I had the meatloaf special. I had coconut shrimp. I had the iced tea. It was great.
WILLIAMS: Well, let me just tell you, the one thing I would say is this. And we’re talking about the kids who still like this gangsta rap, this vile poison that I think is absolutely, you know, literally a corruption of culture. I think that what you’ve got to take into account that it’s still a majority white audience — young, white people who think they’re into rebelling against their parents who buy this stuff and think it’s just a kick. You know, it’s just a way of expressing their anti-authoritarianism.
O’REILLY: But it’s a different — it’s a different dynamic, though.
WILLIAMS: Exactly right –
O’REILLY: Because the young, white kids don’t have to struggle out of the ghetto.
WILLIAMS: Right, and also, I think they can have that as one phase of their lives.
WILLIAMS: I think too many of the black kids take it as, “Oh, that’s what it means to be authentically black. That’s how you make money. That’s how you become rich and famous and get on TV and get music videos.” And you either get the boys or the girls. The girls think they have to, you know, be half-naked and spinning around like they’re on meth in order to get any attention. It really corrupts people, and I think it adds, Bill, to some serious sociological problems, like the high out-of-wedlock birth rate because of this hypersexual imagery that then the kids adapt to some kind of reality. I mean, it’s inauthentic. It’s not in keeping with great black traditions of struggle and excellence, from Willie Mays to Aretha Franklin, but even in terms of academics, you know, going back to people like Charles Drew or Ben Carson here, the neurosurgeon at [Johns] Hopkins [University]. That stuff, all of a sudden, is pushed aside. That’s treated as, “You’re a nerd, you’re acting white,” if you try to be excellent and black.
O’REILLY: You know, and I went to the concert by Anita Baker at Radio City Music Hall, and the crowd was 50/50, black/white, and the blacks were well-dressed. And she came out — Anita Baker came out on the stage and said, “Look, this is a show for the family. We’re not gonna have any profanity here. We’re not gonna do any rapping here.” The band was excellent, but they were dressed in tuxedoes, and this is what white America doesn’t know, particularly people who don’t have a lot of interaction with black Americans. They think that the culture is dominated by Twista, Ludacris, and Snoop Dogg.
WILLIAMS: Oh, and it’s just so awful. It’s just so awful because, I mean, it’s literally the sewer come to the surface, and now people take it that the sewer is the whole story –
O’REILLY: That’s right. That’s right. There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, “M-Fer, I want more iced tea.”
WILLIAMS: Please –
O’REILLY: You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.
There is an example of O’Reilly perpetuating negative stereotypes of black people as being unsophisticated, rude, profane and uncivilized while portraying whites as being docile, having fun, civilized and cordial.
The point is that when Bill O’Reilly makes nasty, racist, racially insensitive, sexist or other controversial-type statements, he has a hundred excuses and brings people like Fox News analyst apologist Juan Williams (posing as a Democrat) on to apologize for him. O’Reilly asserts he is being smeared and taken out of context. When non-Republicans, like Alan Grayson make a statement in very poor taste and offensive, O’Reilly hammers the person repeatedly (even after an apology) and refuses to accept any context.
That’s what you get from “fair and balanced” Bill O’Reilly.