“I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.”
Those are the words of Bill O’Reilly, famous defender of the white establishment and frequent dealer of racist, sexist, and classist remarks on his hard-right Fox TV show The O’Reilly Factor.
O’Reilly – appearing on Fox and Friends – was referring to Maxine Waters, a Democratic Representative from California. Along with the Fox program’s regular hosts, he was reviewing video of Waters speaking about the danger posed by the Trump Administration and the virulent bigotry espoused by many of his followers.
Her speech, in part, discussed the patriotism of the scandal-ridden, flailing Trump:
When we fight against this president and we point out how dangerous he is for this society and for this country, we are fighting for the democracy, we are fighting for America. We are saying to those who say they are patriotic, but they turn a blind eye to the destruction that he’s about to cause to this country: You’re not nearly as patriotic as we are.
In response to Waters impassioned words in the House, O’Reilly dismissed her outright, claiming he didn’t listen as he was focusing on her hair, which he compared to that of James Brown.
African-American woman in Congress speaks up against the president, Bill O’Reilly says he won’t listen because of her hair. pic.twitter.com/GVOkZNBNX9
— Media Matters (@mmfa) March 28, 2017
While one Fox and Friends host, Brian Kilmeade, thoroughly enjoyed the flagrantly racist and sexist remark, the one female anchor – Ainsley Earhardt – stepped in to offer a somewhat half-hearted defense: “I have to defend her on that. You can’t go after a woman’s looks. I think she’s very attractive.”
Following an intense backlash, O’Reilly has offered an insincere apology in which he appears to snicker. For her part, Waters boldly held her own and refused to be cowed by such simple-minded, racist, and crass maleness:
I am a strong black woman, and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined. I cannot be thought to be afraid of Bill O’Reilly or anybody. And I’d like to say to women out there everywhere: Don’t allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you. Be who you are. Do what you do. And let us get on with discussing the real issues of this country.
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) March 29, 2017
Rumors have circulated that O’Reilly’s time with Fox is nearing its end. While the conservative host has gotten away with plenty before, this may be the straw the breaks the camel’s back.
Angela Rye – a commentator on CNN – summed up all of our thoughts and feelings perhaps best of all as best of all regarding the boorish O’Reilly by delivering him a simple message: “Go straight to hell.”
— a. rye✊🏾 (@angela_rye) March 28, 2017