On his Fox News show tonight, Bill O'Reilly hosted former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to opine on whether President Obama is “avoiding unpleasant realities of race.” Responding to Brown's comment that Obama has “been somewhat successful when the issue of race has surfaced without his guidance,” O'Reilly complained that every time he talks about race his words “get taken out of context” and “he's branded a racist.” But O'Reilly has a history of making racially charged statements:
- Discussing a dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem restaurant Sylvia's, O'Reilly stated that he “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.” O'Reilly added: “There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' ”
- During the February 5, 2007, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, in a conversation about President Bush's description of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as “articulate,” O'Reilly told Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill: “Instead of black and white Americans coming together, white Americans are terrified. They're terrified. Now we can't even say you're articulate? We can't even give you guys compliments because they may be taken as condescension?”
- During the April 12, 2006, broadcast of his radio show, which has since been canceled, O'Reilly claimed that on the April 11 edition ofThe O'Reilly Factor, guest Charles Barron, a New York City councilman, had revealed the "hidden agenda" behind the current immigration debate, which, O'Reilly said, was “to wipe out 'white privilege' and to have the browning of America.” O'Reilly suggested that this “hidden agenda” included plans to let “people who live in the Caribbean, people who live in Africa and Asia ... walk in and become citizens immediately.”
- And let's not forget about O'Reilly's remark in 2009 in which he asked, "[S]hould white Americans be concerned about Judge Sotomayor?"
Media Matters provided the full context of O'Reilly's remarks in documenting each of those examples when they occurred, including video or audio, and in most cases transcript. O'Reilly's complaints about being taken out of context ring hollow.