Wash. Post’s Wemple: Bill O’Reilly Is “Following Trump Into A Racist Abyss”

Washington Post’s Erik Wemple lambasted Fox host Bill O’Reilly for excusing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “racist” attacks on the federal judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit.

O’Reilly used his primetime Fox show to call on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge presiding over lawsuits against the now-defunct Trump U., to “recuse himself,” following Trump’s statement that Curiel has “an absolute conflict” because of his Mexican heritage. Trump faced widespread backlash for his “racist” and “highly offensive” remarks, and media figures on MSNBC and CNN condemned Bill O’Reilly for defending Trump’s “attack on the Constitution.”

In a June 7th article, Wemple criticized O’Reilly for “following Trump into a racist abyss,” by defending “Trump’s argument that a judge cannot do his work because of his heritage — an argument that is bigoted, racist, misanthropic and dumb.” From Wemple’s article:

In Bill O’Reilly’s world, friends excuse friends for being racist.

The King of Cable News is a good old pal of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. They’ve attended ballgames together. They’ve shared an untold number of vanilla milkshakes. They’re so tight that O’Reilly at one point used his association with Trump to put rival Ted Cruz in his place. “I’ve known him for about 30 years. I think he’s an honest man,” said O’Reilly. Settled!


Reasonable people on both sides of this country’s political divide have condemned Trump’s argument that a judge cannot do his work because of his heritage — an argument that is bigoted, racist, misanthropic and dumb. O’Reilly is not one of those reasonable people. On his program last night, he attempted a a delicate rhetorical operation in which he called for Curiel’s recusal from the case without repeating Trump’s rationale word for word.


Let’s lay out this un-theoretical argument: With those words, O’Reilly is explicitly following Trump into a racist abyss, one where an upstanding federal judge stands accused, somehow, of political biases just because of his ancestry. In nearly a year of campaign-trail outrages, this is one of Trump’s most sinister offenses — straight-up prejudice masquerading as highfalutin ethics. Ignorance of court precedent enters the mix as well. As Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick wrote, “Despite multiple sad efforts to conflict out black and female judges in discrimination cases in the late 1970s and ’80s—and more recent efforts to conflict out a gay judge in a marriage equality case—courts have consistently ruled judges are no more inherently biased if they are black, or female, or gay than they would be inherently fair if they were white, or male, or straight.”


If only O’Reilly applied his own standards of ethical purity to his own work: What would he say about a journalist covering frequently and approvingly on a longtime pal? We may never know.

Next time O’Reilly wants a little insight on conflicts of interest, he should take to heart what his colleague Megyn Kelly said on her program last night: “You can’t create a conflict of interest about a judge just by complaining about him.”