Another Martin Luther King Day used by Fox News to race bait. Last night, Bill O’Reilly used five – count ‘em, five – segments on The O’Reilly Factor to play the racial victim. Not one segment on his show was used to promote the ideals or the philosophy of Dr. King – except as it pertains to white people and/or conservatives.
Segment 1: O’Reilly Ridiculed And Distorted SC Democrat’s Comments About Insensitivity Of Republican Candidates To MLK Day
This was The O’Reilly Factor’s Top Story segment last night (1/16/12). O’Reilly introduced it by saying, “Like everything else, (Martin Luther King’s birthday) has become political.” So, having established that he, O’Reilly, was not doing the politicizing, he proceeded to spend much of the rest of his show politicizing it, himself. First up, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, a regular Fox News guest.
Harpootlian was there to explain comments made on MSNBC that Republicans had scheduled their debate on Martin Luther King Day “without any regard to the Civil Rights issues that this state has faced.” Harpootlian explained that he was not – as O’Reilly suggested – offended by the fact that the debate was being held on that day, he was offended at the lack of outreach the GOP candidates were making to African Americans in South Carolina and “ignoring Martin Luther King’s Birthday.”
O’Reilly was obviously more interested in mowing down Harpootlian’s point than in exploring it. In fact, O’Reilly pretty much ignored what Harpootlian had said in order to play gotcha over the fact that the Democrats hosted a presidential candidates’ debate on MLK Day in South Carolina in 2008.
“But they also participated in a number of events leading up to that debate,” Harpootlian pointed out.
Once again, O’Reilly ignored that point in order to race bait. “So there’s a litmus test now, that any political candidate has to participate in the event? …Maybe they feel that that’s not their constituency. Obviously, African Americans vote heavily Demcoratic.”
Later, Bill O’Reilly laughably said, “If it were me, I would have been marching in the Martin Luther King Day Columbia parade, or Charleston wherever they had it,” and then lectured Harpootlian, “I think you injecting race into this is not a good thing for the country. I don’t think that’s good.”
O’Reilly had no such concern about his own race-injecting efforts.
To Be Continued...
And then when O’Reilly got Harpootlian on the air, he took advantage of the fact that Harpootlian didn’t remember that the Dems had their debate on MLK Day in 08, as sponsored by the CBC.
Harpootlian should have done his homework on both counts – of making the acccurate comparison, and of anticipating what O’Reilly would pull. Since he didn’t, O’Reilly had a field day and spent the rest of his hour gloating about it. And he’ll continue to gloat about it, no doubt, when discussing any further racial issues during the campaign. Every discussion will include an obligatory mention of “…this is the same thing as when you left wingers were telling the Republicans they couldn’t have a debate on MLK Day and we on the Factor had to point out the truth…” It’ll be just as much fun as the fictional $16 muffin he keeps using to bash the government.
I completely agree with your assessment of O’Reilly’s purpose in bringing on Harpootlian. The intent was to sandbag him and then hold up the “proof” that he had no legitimate argument for the rest of the show.
I don’t know if Harpootlian should have known in advance that’s what O’Reilly was doing but he certainly should have picked up on it better while on the show. It was pretty clear to me Harpootlian was not saying the debate should have not been held on MLK Day but he allowed O’Reilly to reframe the debate – and make a fool out of him in the process.
I agree, he should have immediately reframed the discussion back to his point, which is that the Republicans acted insensitively. Even O’Reilly got that as shown in his comment to Jim DeMint in the next segment.
Harpootlian seems like a nice guy but there is simply no excuse, IMO, for any Democrat – much less a prominent one like Harpootlian who is a seasoned guest on Fox (though not on shows like O’Reilly) – not to understand that they are not there for a “fair and balanced” exploration of any Democratic point but to play a role in political theater. If a Dem can deliver a knockout punch in a way that Republicans enjoy, fine. Otherwise, you’ll be gone either banished by Fox or demolished on the air.
The fact that so many Democratic Party operatives can’t or won’t seem to figure this out and deal with it adequately is absolutely infuriating to me.
(Note to Billo: See what I did there?)
What Harpootlian could and should have said was “A debate on MLK Day isn’t a bad thing – we had a Democrat debate on the day 4 years ago sponsored by the CBC – but the GOP candidates have apparently spent the day ignoring MLK Day where the Dem candidates in 2008 celebrated it. By doing this, the GOP is ignoring the black community, including black GOP members.”
Had Harpootlian done this, it would have removed O’Reilly’s ability to spin the focus onto the most unimportant part of the discussion – whether a debate should be held on the day – rather than the GOP’s historic dismissal of the black community.