Bill O'Reilly's latest "lynching" attack on Michelle Obama caps a series of racist slurs that have led some to refer to him as Bill O'Racist.
The latest flap occurred Feb. 19 when O'Reilly, saying he was defending Obama, stated on his radio program: "I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels – that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever – then that's legit. We'll track it down."
Defending himself two days later, O'Reilly asserted, "The word 'lynching' was used because I said it quite clearly. I'm not going to go on some lynching party against Michelle Obama; that's ridiculous."
That's not exactly what he said. By stating that he didn't want to go on a lynching party against Obama unless she was truly unpatriotic, O'Reilly left open the possibility that under certain circumstances, he would indeed join what he termed a lynching party.
On the Feb. 21 show, he dismissed a caller who asked: "Do you think you owe Michelle Obama an apology for that disrespectful lynching analogy?" The host labeled the caller a "far-left loon." As is often the case in incidents like this, O'Reilly belatedly offered a tepid apology.
Exactly five months earlier, O'Reilly created a stir when he discussed a recent trip to Sylvia's, a popular soul food restaurant in Harlem, as the guest of Al Sharpton.
"I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by Blacks, primarily Black patronship," he said.
Later, in a discussion with Juan Williams on NPR, O'Reilly expanded his comments. According to a transcript of the program provided by Mediamatters.org, a monitoring group, O'Reilly said, "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-White suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."
O'Reilly has been making crazy and racist comments for years as host of Fox TV's O'Reilly Factor and his syndicated radio show, Radio Factor. Many have been chronicled by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), another media monitoring group.
For example, at a fundraiser for Best Friends, a charity for Washington, D.C. students, O'Reilly said, "Does anyone know where the Best Men are? I hope they're not in the parking lot stealing our hubcaps." [Washington Post 4/15/03]
FAIR noted that O'Reilly has "a history of making derogatory, stereotyping comments about people of color." It cited the following examples:
• Criticizing Democratic politicians who met with Rev. Al Sharpton, which O'Reilly compared to meeting with White supremacist David Duke: "Why would it be different? Both use race to promote themselves." (3/16/00) O'Reilly also equated the Black Panthers with Duke (1/11/99): "You were promoting your people, Black people, and he's promoting White people. So what's the difference?"
Mediamatters.org recalled that on his Sept. 13, 2005 broadcast, O'Reilly asserted that "many of the poor in New Orleans" did not evacuate the city before Hurricane Katrina because they were "drug-addicted" and "weren't going to get turned off from their source." O'Reilly claimed, "They were thugs."
O'Reilly is no different than shock jock Don Imus. Like Imus, he should be kicked off the air.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach.