Fox News' Bill O'Reilly resorted to his standard accusation of being taken out of context to defend himself against criticism that his recent comments about Asian-Americans were offensive. Last week on his show, O'Reilly stated that “Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They're usually more industrious and hard-working.”
Hawaii Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa appeared on his Friday show to criticize O'Reilly, saying that she took issue with the way he described Asian-Americans. She stressed that Asian-Americans value their elders and that their culture teaches them to value each other.
O'Reilly replied by accusing of her not having seen the entire January 3 report and claiming that we took him out context:
O'REILLY: I don't believe you saw that report on television. I saw it -- I think you saw it on Media Matters, which you cite on your website. And you took a clip from Media Matters, which they took totally out of context -- totally out of context. You didn't see the full report on this program.
In fact, we accurately portrayed O'Reilly's January 3 comments, in context, complete with relevant video and a transcript of his remarks.
On January 3, The O'Reilly Factor aired a segment featuring Fox News producer Jesse Watters interviewing people on the street in Hawaii and highlighting that state's supposedly liberal culture. Following a clip of the interviews, Watters discussed the “social problems” in Hawaii such as homelessness and drug abuse with O'Reilly on-air. O'Reilly then said:
O'REILLY: I think the one person who said, Look, this is a place where people come to to escape. This is, you know, generally speaking. But you know what's shocking? 35 percent of the Hawaiian population is Asian, and Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They're usually more industrious and hard-working.
After accusing Hanabusa of not having seen the entire report, O'Reilly stated that his remarks were “in the context of Watters going to Hawaii, interviewing guys in recliners, who are on unemployment, sitting back in the beautiful sun, and saying, 'you know what? It's -- give me stuff. I don't want to work for it.'” He went on to say: “It wasn't an Asian-American report.” He later admonished Hanabusa to “never again condemn anybody unless you see the total report,” adding: “What I did was not offensive to Asians. I was talking into a context that you didn't see because you took it off a far-left website that is dishonest.”
In fact, adding Watters' man-on-the-street interviews to our clip would hardly have changed the nature of what O'Reilly said about Asian-Americans.
Hanabusa replied by calling his comments offensive and saying, “We are not one kind of person. We want you to recognize that we are different. That is all we are asking you to do.”