Bill O’Reilly tried to keep his cool on Wednesday night and didn’t completely succeed. At issue was the internet backlash over the Fox News host’s analysis of Michelle Obama’s DNC speech, in which she illustrated America’s sociocultural evolution by remarking upon how the White House was built by slaves. In response, O’Reilly felt the need to point out that he did some research, and he asserted how these were “well-fed” slaves who enjoyed similar perks like free housing. He never defended slavery, but glossed over how they were still slaves despite issues of food and housing.
In the day since O’Reilly dropped his controversial statement, the internet also did some research and dug up former First Lady Abigail Adams’ observations from the White House. She witnessed slaves who were anything but well fed. Unfortunately, the facts aren’t quite as relevant to this post as O’Reilly’s continued obsession over his fine mess.
The host replayed his comments on slavery, which we simply reported as O’Reilly wanting everyone to know that these slaves were “well-fed.” No one really knows why O’Reilly found his comment relevant to Michelle Obama’s speech. Yet much of Twitter (including Bryan Cranston) was outraged, and some outlets took his words as defending slavery. So, the host believes these “smear merchants” planned this attack to diminish the Fox News channel, and “They want me dead … literally dead.” He further explains:
“As any honest historian knows, in order to keep slaves and free laborers strong, the Washington administration provided meat, bread and other staples, and also decent lodging on the grounds of the new presidential building. That is a fact. Not a justification, not a defense of slavery.”
O’Reilly now wants the world to know that his take on Michelle Obama’s speech “does not diminish the horror” of history, and that he was relaying “a fact, not a justification or a defense of slavery.” But why did he decide to inject a “well-fed” comment into the discussion in the first place? The effect was cringeworthy at best, and last night’s rebuttal grew even more absurd with the appearance of Geraldo Rivera on a panel.