Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly reacted Monday to criticism from MSNBC “PoliticsNation” host Al Sharpton.
During one of his opening “Talking Points” monologues last week, O’Reilly tied the death of Trayvon Martin to elements of black culture, an observation that Sharpton condemned.
Nonetheless, O’Reilly stood by his comments and reiterated statistics about the black family.
“Al Sharpton and the grievance industry strike back — that is the subject of this evening’s ‘Talking Points Memo,’” O’Reilly said. “Last week, we told you that one of the big reasons Trayvon Martin lost his life was that George Zimmerman feared the image he projected that night in Florida — his clothing, his presence. Zimmerman profiled Martin, and disaster followed. The anger this case has engendered was understandable. If Trayvon Martin was my son I would be doing exactly what his parents are doing. But out of tragedy can come something positive, and that is why ‘Talking Points’ is urging the civil rights folks to stop maligning the country and face up to a huge problem that is directly harming millions, primarily in the African-American community.”
“Young black Americans are the most violent group in this country by far,” he continued. “The reason is the collapse of the traditional African-American family unit. Fifty years ago when blacks had it much worse than they have it now 25 percent of black babies were born out of wedlock. Today the number is close to 75 percent. That is catastrophic. But the civil rights industry and the white power fracture basically ignore the problem. They also ignore the entertainment industry putting out vile products aimed at young people, some of whom incorporate the gangsta culture into their own lives.”
Since making those statements, O’Reilly had come under fire from Sharpton. To attack O’Reilly’s credibility on race issues, Sharpton used a 2007 clip from O’Reilly’s now-defunct radio program about an experience he had with Sharpton in a Harlem restaurant. O’Reilly argued that clip had been played out of context and offered the clip entirety as a way to debunk Sharpton’s attack.
He then said this was the beginning of the end for Sharpton and other “race hustlers.”
“‘Talking Points’ believes the day of the race hustlers is coming to an end,” he said. “This ‘we’ and ‘them’ business gets the country nowhere. Fair-minded Americans well understand there are severe problems in the black community that have to be solved. And it will take honest, courageous people to do that.”
O’Reilly cited CNN anchor Don Lemon’s brush with controversy over his remarks about black culture and pledged his support for Lemon. And then he took a parting shot at Sharpton.
O’REILLY: As for Al Sharpton, we will leave with him saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Is Bill O’Reilly saying George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin because Trayvon was born out of wedlock, even though he wasn’t? That’s ridiculous, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’REILLY: Ridiculous? You bet, Al. Your day is done.