Bill O'Reilly Issues Grovelling Apology After Racially Laden, Sexist Remark Towards U.S. Congresswoman Waters

Bill O’Reilly Issues Grovelling Apology After Racially Laden, Sexist Remark Towards U.S. Congresswoman Waters

Not for the first time in his broadcasting career, Bill O’Reilly has had to issue a grovelling apology. On this occasion the recipient is Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who O’Reilly apologized to after making an initial statement about her that was laden with racist and misogynistic undertones.

Speaking on the Fox & Friends show, the Fox News stalwart made the following statement in response to a speech in the House of Representatives from Californian Congresswoman Waters:

“I didn’t hear a word she said, I was looking at the James Brown wig.”

O’Reilly,  subsequently added that:

“If we have a picture of James Brown — it’s the same wig,”

The insulting and reprehensible nature of O’Reilly’s actions were not immediately apparent to the host of Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor as he laughed and enjoyed the adulation afforded to him by the two male hosts of the show.

However,  upon facing a degree of criticism from Ainsley Earhardt, the female host at Fox & Friends, for his comments, it became clear that the penny had finally dropped for the top rated host on cable news.

Earhardt, standing up for Waters, stated that:

“You can’t go after a woman’s looks. I think she’s very attractive.”

To which, O’Reilly boisterously replied:

“I didn’t say she wasn’t attractive, I love James Brown. But it’s the same hair!” 

However, upon realizing that mood of the conversation had changed, O’Reilly quickly attempted to change tactics by heaping praise on Waters:

“Whatever she says she believes. She’s not a phony, and that’s old school.”

In the hours between making the comments on Tuesday morning and issuing an apology on Tuesday afternoon, O’Reilly was highly criticized on Twitter and other social media outlets for the nature of his remarks. The underlying misogyny and racist laden tone used, as well as O’Reilly’s previous in this regard exacerbated the problem for the Fox News host.

Whether Bill O’Reilly felt genuinely remorseful for his remarks or was advised to do so due to the backlash against him on Twitter is unclear, however,  the Fox News host did issue the following apology to Congresswoman Waters Tuesday afternoon:

“As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs, I said that again today on Fox & Friends calling her ‘old school.’ Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologize.”

If Bill O’Reilly’s apology is genuine then it should be accepted. However, in a week that has already seen UK’s Daily Mail make headlines for choosing to focus on the respective appearances of UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon rather than Brexit and its potential fallout, it is a little hard not to be somewhat cynical of an apology from a white male who made degrading comments towards an African-American woman over her appearance.

Photo Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

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A freelance political writer with a particular interest in writing stories that are under-reported in mainstream media outlets. Especially interested in voting behaviour trends, emerging and marginalized demographics and the impact politics has on culture – music, film, theater. An Irishman abroad, he enjoys sport, guitar music and film.