Bill O'Reilly's “Moral Instruction For Black People”: Michael Brown Edition

Bill O'Reilly's proclivity for using tragedies and racial disparities to lecture the black community was on full display in the wake of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri.

The St. Louis suburb has erupted in demonstrations following the death of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed teenager allegedly gunned down by police while he tried to run away. The unrest has prompted Brown's parents and civil rights leaders to call for peaceful protests and justice over the wrongful death.

On the August 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly attributed Brown's father's calls for justice to “talking through an emotional prism,” adding that “many, many African Americans believe” that Brown was murdered “without knowing the facts.” He wondered if the black community deserves criticism for viewing Brown's death as an injustice.

Salon's Joan Walsh aptly described how O'Reilly's response exposes his program as a “cable news show that sometimes doubles as an hour of moral instruction for black people.” As Walsh explained, it was a lecture that smacked of “creepy paternalism,” and one that “provides a window onto the worldview of aging authoritarian white conservatives.” It's also a lecture O'Reilly has perfected.

The Fox host frequently attacks the black community for problems that, according to him, specifically plague black culture. He's staunchly denied the existence of racial disparities in arrest and conviction rates across the country, often attributing African Americans' over-representation in the nation's prison systems to “the culture” in “ghetto neighborhoods.” “The culture” is also to blame for disproportionate poverty in the black community. O'Reilly's "solutions" often involve blaming black families and “young black girls” who became pregnant outside of marriage.

As evidenced by his response to Brown's death, even tragedies aren't off-limits. O'Reilly similarly argued that Trayvon Martin was killed because he looked "how gangstas look."

In late July, his offensive rhetoric prompted Color of Change to launch a campaign calling on O'Reilly to apologize. According to the advocacy group, “Bill O'Reilly must be held accountable for the dissemination of these harmful mistruths about Black communities.”

As of yet, no apology has come.