Tavis Smiley visited The O’Reilly Factor Thursday night. While he engaged in a spirited and interesting discussion about race and politics, I wish he had confronted the cynical and dishonest race baiting that goes on on Fox 24/7.
In his Talking Points commentary that immediately preceded Smiley’s interview (and is included below), Bill O’Reilly decried “vicious racial politics.” Of course, he meant vicious racial politics from Democrats. “It seems the race card is being played exclusively by Democrats in order to stimulate African American voting,” O’Reilly said.
Yeah, just pay no attention to all those Republican voter laws that aim to restrict it. Or the demonization of African Americans that's a staple on Fox News – including racial attacks on President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.
Nevertheless, O’Reilly – who regularly engages in race baiting and condescending whitesplaining himself accused Democrats of trying to “distill division and hatred. That is not – not – the American way.”
Enter Smiley. He told O’Reilly there wasn’t enough time to discuss “all the places that you’re wrong.” But instead of confronting O’Reilly on the hypocrisy or the race baiting, Smiley probably made a Fox producer's day by knocking Democrats. Smiley said, “Democrats continue to take the black vote for granted. Republicans continue to ignore that vote. So if you’re African American, what do you do? The reality is that neither party is truly interested, I believe, in the economic opportunity and the social mobility of African American voters. So you can spin all day long that only the Democrats are guilty of that, the Republicans aren’t doing much better at all.”
I’ve got nothing against criticizing Democrats. But to do so on Fox News just validates their propaganda. At the same time, Smiley's remarks gave a pass to the bigoted elephant on the airwaves.
O’Reilly said something very interesting about Republicans, though. He said, “I think they are more intimidated though, than uncaring. …I think they’re afraid. I think they’re afraid of black people.
“Are black folks scary?” Smiley asked.
O’REILLY: No, no, the white Republican power structure is afraid of black Americans. They don’t know how to treat them, they don’t know how to speak to them, they don’t know anything about the culture and they don’t want to be called a racist bigot so they stay away. …They feel it’s not worth the trouble, the few votes they might siphon off to get involved in it. That’s how they feel. I know that for a fact.
The expression on Smiley’s face was priceless. You can see it on the screen grab above.
Then O’Reilly asked Smiley what the Obama administration should be doing that they’re not doing. Smiley went to town. O’Reilly also went to town with his insistence that there is no white privilege and that the disintegration of the family is the root of all black ills.
Again, it was an interesting discussion. But apparently Smiley has no idea of the ways that O’Reilly deliberately demeans and denigrates African Americans under cover of whitesplaining concern. Either that or Smiley deliberately gave O’Reilly a pass.
Watch the discussion below and let me know what you think.