He may have finally gone too far
It’s been a rude awakening for the folks at The Fox News Channel. Getting away with blatant racism and sexism just isn’t as easy as it once was.
And for Fox’s longest-running primetime host Bill O’Reilly, it may no longer be a man’s world.
That’s because a growing chorus of people, including several of his contemporaries in cable news, are calling for the O’Reilly Factor host to be fired after he made racist and sexist jokes about a black female member of Congress.
"I didn't hear a word she said," O'Reilly said during an appearance on Tuesday’s Fox & Friends morning show while discussing Rep. Maxine Waters, D, Calif. "I was looking at the James Brown wig."
"If we have a picture of James Brown—it's the same wig," O’Reilly added.
The unprompted insults set off a torrent of criticism on social media. In fact, they didn’t even go completely unchecked on the show itself. While Fox & Friends cohost Brian Kilmeade laughed at O’Reilly’s insult, Ainsley Earhardt stepped in to offer a half-hearted rebuttal, saying, "I have to defend her on that," Earhardt said. "You can't go after a woman's looks. I think she's very attractive."
O’Reilly quickly attempted to backpedal, insisting that he somehow wasn’t insulting Waters.
"I didn't say she wasn't attractive," O'Reilly insisted. "I love James Brown. But it's the same hair!"
Of course, no one was buying O’Reilly’s explanation for what was an obviously racially tinged commentary about Waters’ appearance. It was the kind of comment that would have been offensive, but perhaps tolerated coming from a politically incorrect, black comedian. But coming from a self-serious news anchor like O’Reilly, there’s no denying what it was:
By midafternoon, O’Reilly himself acknowledged his mistake, putting out an apology statement, which reads:
“As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs,” he said. “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.”
But that may not be enough. There is mounting pressure on Fox to fire O’Reilly. And with rumors circulating that he may leave the network soon anyway, it may be just the opportunity for the folks at Fox News to factor in his termination.