Apparently, Bill O’Reilly is having a tough time dealing with the pushback to his nightly attacks on African Americans. Last night, he laughably announced on the air to an absent Al Sharpton, "Your day is done!" Tonight, he railed against a scathing editorial by the New Haven Register and hinted he'd sic ambush stalker Jesse Watters on the paper if they don't apologize. Proof again, as if you need it, that Fox News bullies can’t stomach what they make millions dishing out. Tonight, poor Bill also got an earful from Fox News Democrat Kirsten Powers.
O’Reilly began by playing a clip of Powers on Fox News Watch calling out the sudden interest by conservatives in black crime and saying that the only time she hears them talking about it is “when they want to stick it to the black community.” I don’t know whether Powers has missed how O’Reilly has done exactly that or whether she really thinks he has not done so but she gave him a pass at the beginning by saying her comments were directed toward others and coyly questioning whether O'Reilly is actually a conservative or "just looking out for the folks." However, that does not take away from her straight talk that followed.
Powers hit right on what other O’Reilly guests seem to have missed, that conservatives (and I’ll include O’Reilly in the group even if she doesn’t) are not trying to have an “honest conversation” the way O’Reilly, Hannity, et al. pretend. She said:
I think the way that it has been brought up over and over during the Trayvon Martin case and suddenly become what seems like an obsession to me, considering this has been a problem for as long as I can remember. I mean, it was no different under the Bush administration, in terms of black-on-black crime, and now suddenly, it is Topic A. It is what everybody’s talking about. And it just seems strange to me that all of a sudden, when, you know, you have the Trayvon Martin case, that nobody wants to talk about that, they just want to talk about black-on-black crime.
Bingo! But wait, there’s more.
O’Reilly whined that everybody talked about Trayvon Martin “until we were going to faint.” Funny, though, how he seems to have an endless supply of fascination with black crime, though. But, just like he tried to justify his infamous comments about his visit to Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem (where he was so impressed that nobody was screaming “M-Fer, I want more iced tea”), O’Reilly insisted there’s “context to it.” That context, according to O'Reilly, was that the “grievance industry” reacted to George Zimmerman’s acquittal by, as O’Reilly put it, leveling charges “that we’re trying to hurt” or “hunt down” black people.
Powers made a different point but one that was just as good, if I may say so: That conservatives were refusing to discuss what did happen, "That because Trayvon Martin wasn’t killed by a black person …that we shouldn’t just talk about it, we should switch the topic.”
O’Reilly laughably claimed that it’s “all about protecting Americans” because Trayvon Martin didn’t deserve to be killed. “So we need to protect Trayvon Martin,” O’Reilly said with an impassioned sympathy I have yet to see when he is talking to African Americans. “That’s why the discussion about the intensity of black crime arose. Surely, you understand that,” he cried.
Judging from her facial expressions, alone, I don’t think Powers bought it. She said:
Perhaps that’s why it arose for you, Bill. I really do feel that …when people wanted to talk about the Trayvon Martin case and the fact that race was a factor – there are people that, and I put myself in that category, that do think race was a factor – the response is always, “Oh, let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about black-on-black crime. Black people don’t want to talk about black-on-black crime.”
Video below via Mediaite.
O'Reilly Fights Powers On Right's 'Obsession' With Black Crime: We Protect People 'No Matter What Color They Are'
Fox News analyst Kirsten Powers got some heat for her comments over the weekend that conservatives are only now concerned with black-on-black crime to 1) distract from the Trayvon Martin case, and 2) to "stick it to the black community." Powers defended her remarks to Bill O'Reilly, after assuring him that she was not talking about him.
Powers, in a rare show of temerity given her unfortunate statements of late, pointed out the obvious here.
The reality of this situation is that right wing media has no idea how to answer the difficult issues that the Trayvon Martin case raised – the fact that a black teenager could be profiled, stalked and killed simply for the act of “walking home while black in a hoodie”. George Zimmerman may say that he really didn’t think about Trayvon Martin’s race, but the reality is that he profiled Martin. The understandable outrage has come from not only the black community but from people across all ethnicities. Because people are shocked to see that even today, you have racial intolerance at a level that could result in someone being killed. People had hoped that this kind of thing was long behind us, but the case, and the right wing reaction to it, demonstrate that we still have a long way to go.
The right wing media of AM radio and Fox News further exacerbated this situation by enthusiastically cheerleading the George Zimmerman side of the case, and then trying to fan white paranoia about potential black riots in response to the verdict. (And that doesn’t even get into the fact that right wing media was campaigning for Zimmerman’s defense fund, and likely doing more to keep it going. I’d be very curious to see what the numbers were of monies coming in for that month of trial, when the attorney costs would have exploded beyond all reckoning.)
In the aftermath of the case, how did Bill O’Reilly present himself? Did he acknowledge the hateful rhetoric he had participated in? Did he castigate right wingers for trying to gin up fears of rioting? No, he tried to change the subject. Suddenly, he’s trying to lecture the black community on what he perceives as its moral lapses and its own responsibility for violence.
Now, he might have had a point if he’d actually taken the time to do the research that Richard Deitering is trying to present as somehow convincing. But he didn’t. He cherry picked a few polls and stats to fit his preset conclusion. O’Reilly’s whole meme was that unmarried Black parents were the whole source of the problem, which he sees as a matter of a wave of violence from young black males.
It’s not just offensive that O’Reilly thinks he can make statements like this with impunity, particularly when he’s way off on his assumptions. It’s offensive that he tries to pillory community organizers and public speakers like Jesse Jackson, saying that they haven’t been speaking out about issues within the black community. On what planet is O’Reilly living? Jesse Jackson has been talking about these issues for over 40 years, as have multiple community leaders and organizers. People have been discussing the issues of crime and violence in black communities as well as all ethnic communities for decades. Where was O’Reilly when these discussions were happening, and who does he think he is to lecture these communities at this time?
O’Reilly seems to think that the solution to crime and violence is for the parents of children in black neighborhoods to all get married and to send their kids to strict schools with uniforms, or at least that seems to be the solution he proposed. This would be ridiculous on its face, if it weren’t clear that O’Reilly seems to really think that this is the answer. Meaning – let’s go back to O’Reilly’s fantasy version of the 1950s, where nobody misbehaved and kids knew their place.
The reality of increasing violence among all communities, including black, white and everyone else, is that we’ve had multiple factors contributing to the problem. The biggest one is that you have a growing number of people living on lower and lower wages, and they’re constantly shown the greatest levels of excess from all the various TV shows and commercial material around them. You have a growing number of people in crumbling public schools, where teachers are being laid off due to lack of funds and where teenagers get the idea that there’s no point to staying in school. You have communities where people struggle to find work beyond the local fast food place, and where hope becomes a much rarer commodity than it should be. Couple that with the complete intransigence of our politicians, particularly the GOP congresspeople who lecture these communities without knowing anything about them. Couple that with pundits like O’Reilly, who continue the lectures without showing any understanding for who he’s insulting. And you’d think that O’Reilly would understand, given that he always touts his experience in 1971 as a teacher – but we should remember he was teaching at a private Catholic high school, not an inner city school as he regularly tries to allege.
The fact is that communities around this country have been trying to wrestle with the issues of crime and violence and racism for decades. Community leaders have addressed it more times than anyone can count. And yet we still have increasing violence, and we still have racism, regardless of what Bill O’Reilly thinks a quick-fix solution might be.
But telling the black community that it’s their fault that kids are dying, and saying that it’s due to children being born out of wedlock, is flat-out offensive and unacceptable. O’Reilly is being properly criticized, and if he truly cared about these issues, he would humbly accept the criticisms and apologize for his behavior. Instead, he’s doubling down.
And, frankly, his attempt at creating a distraction from the disturbing issues of the Trayvon Martin case only reinforces those issues. He may be working hard not to answer the hard questions here, but his desperate attempt to do so is only adding more of them.