It took less than a full day for Bill O’Reilly to issue an apology following the latest Fox News controversy — comments that he made about Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ hair during a segment on Fox & Friends this morning.
As you can see in the video below, O’Reilly said that while he respected Congresswoman Waters, he also claims that he “didn’t hear a word she said” (a little oxymoronic, no?) because he was “looking at the James Brown wig.” When he was taken to task for going at her appearance, he countered with “I didn’t say she wasn’t attractive. I love James Brown. But it’s the same hair.”
As you would imagine, O’Reilly became under attack from almost everyone outside of the Fox & Friends studio for the remarks, which were labeled as everything from misogynistic to racist. O’Reilly has since issued a statement denying that he intended the comment to be offensive in any way, and that it was merely a poorly-made joke on his part. Here is what he had to say per Variety:
“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.”
Of course, O’Reilly is entitled to speak his mind, but what he seems to missing here once more is the same thing that many political pundits on both sides seem to be missing: The intentional fallacy. Don’t just assume that everyone is going to take a comment the way you intend for it to be taken. Just because O’Reilly didn’t think the comment wasn’t offensive doesn’t make it such. Other people are entitled to perceive it however they want to, and the reaction means more than the intent. It’s a little bit different when it is a news commentator making such a comment, as well, as opposed to some Twitter troll — both are bad, but there is a certain degree of weight that goes with the professional that needs to be taken into account.
In the end, the thing that O’Reilly should have commented on further is the notion of saying that he respects someone, only to go on to make fun of their appearance in a public forum.
Do you think that O’Reilly did enough in his apology, and what do you think about the comment in the first place? Share in the comments. (Photo: Fox News.)