Immediately following the Martin Luther King Day segment with South Carolina Democrat Dick Harpootlian, Bill O'Reilly used the occasion to race bait a second time when he trotted out Senator Jim DeMint and complained, "I don't like this race business."
DeMint responded to Harpootlian's complaint that the Republican presidential candidates had not reached out to African Americans in South Carolina despite debating there on Martin Luther King Day. DeMint said that South Carolina Republicans had been celebrating MLK Day “all day” and went on to make the ludicrous claim, “Our history of civil rights is so obvious, Bill… There’s been so much revision of this history, it was fun to look at the fact that our party was formed around equal rights for African Americans and the things we’ve done since then all the way up to 1964.”
In reality, as O’Reilly almost surely knows, South Carolina has a rather dubious record on race that includes flying the Confederate Flag outside the Statehouse, a new voter id law that was rejected by the Obama Justice Department because it disproportionately keeps African Americans from voting, and a history of violently resisting integration. But O'Reilly said nothing to challenge DeMint’s claim.
O’Reilly did, however, note Harpootlian’s concerns from the previous segment – the same ones he tried to discredit when Harpootlian was the guest – and said, “On the surface, that might look to African American voters as kind of a snub.” But having raised the African American viewpoint, O’Reilly launched into his own concerns – that whites are going to somehow get screwed in the upcoming election. “I don’t like this race business, Senator… and it’s really building to a crescendo. Romney’s a white guy… I don’t like all this stuff. And we saw a little bit with it in Jesse Jackson in the last, 2008 South Carolina primary. We saw a little bit there. So what is this all about?”
DeMint didn't want to go there. He predicted that all Americans will “come together” in the spirit of freedom, prosperity and opportunity and that more minorities will participate.
If O'Reilly fears that race will be used illegitimately in the upcoming election, he could have a legitimate discussion about it. But using the framework of Martin Luther King Day is tacky and insensitive, to say the least. But it got worse as the show went on.
More posts on this to come.
That started with a discussion of Voter ID, where Crowley made the outrageous assertion that the Dems intend to commit voter fraud as an electoral strategy without any objection from O’Reilly. When Colmes brought up the fact that voter fraud is an insignificant problem, and that this ID balloon is really about intimidating poor and minority voters from the polls before they can vote for Dems, THEN O’Reilly steps in and tells Colmes he’s out of line. And Crowley is allowed an additional shot to tell Colmes his statement is outrageous – the irony of which was quite thick.
Then they moved on to discussion of the Harpootlian interview, for which O’Reilly gloated about having nailed him. Colmes attempted to make the point that Harpootlian had fumbled but couldn’t get past the filibustering from O’Reilly, who only wanted to hear a yes/no about whether it was smart of Harpootlian to say there shouldn’t be a debate on MLK Day in light of 2008. Colmes eventually backed down in light of the filibustering and both O’Reilly and Crowley telling him to calm down.
Finally, they brought up the old canard of the Black Panther/Christian Adams mess in Philadelphia, with Crowley once again accusing the Obama Justice people of dropping the case. Colmes then tried to correct the record for what must be the umpteenth time, and as they talked over each other, he reminded her that most of this happened under the Bush Department and that no complaints were ever filed in the case. O’Reilly and Crowley once again told Colmes to calm down and used semantics to maintain their case. Colmes by this point really did look frustrated, possibly from ending the segment with this kind of “Whack a Mole” discussion.
O’Reilly must have been in some kind of mood last night, since he also took the time during his Brit Hume discussion to bring up the whole Kennedy Family bootlegger story as a way of dismissing the family’s fortune. At several points during this, Hume was laughing as well, possibly out of nervousness or perhaps because he agreed.
All said, this was a pretty shocking hour of television.