Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bill O’Reilly’s Harlem adventure

I’m on record as being a Bill O’Reilly fan. Not saying that I agree with him regularly, or even think he’s particularly intelligent. But I do find his TV show entertaining. He’s a natural-born broadcaster.

Okay, so now O’Reilly’s in a dither because of the left-wing website Media Matters, which uploaded a couple of audio bites from O’Reilly’s radio show last week – in which O’Reilly referred to a recent dining experience with Al Sharpton in Harlem – and made him seem like a racially insensitive boob. (Hat-tip: justjudith.)

Basically, O’Reilly said he was shocked to discover that the soul food restaurant Sylvia’s was just like any other restaurant in New York... “even though it’s run by blacks,” with “primarily black patronship.”

A number of mainstream media outlets – including CNN – reported these comments.

On his cable show tonight, rather than acknowledge that he expressed himself poorly, O’Reilly made it all about the “smear” tactics of the liberal media. He even asked Sharpton to speak up in his defense. (Sharpton said he’d have to listen to O’Reilly’s remarks “in context” before passing judgement. Sharpton did say this wasn’t the first time he and O’Reilly had broken bread in Harlem.)

To hear O’Reilly’s radio remarks for yourself, click here. This clip (via Media Matters) also includes O’Reilly’s subsequent remarks in a conversation with Juan Williams concerning the remarkably normal behavior of diners at Sylvia’s (as well as the “well-dressed” black people he saw while attending an Anita Baker concert).

To Mr. O’Reilly, I say: Keep your head up. You will weather this storm. And if you’re ever in Southern California, and have a hankering for home-style meatloaf, I suggest you hit Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch, where I can attest that black customers do NOT toss chicken bones on the floor.

Also, Bill, the next time you’re in D.C., check out Georgia Brown’s. Believe it or not, I have not personally witnessed any African-American patrons cussing, belching or farting at the table there. Go see for yourself if you don’t believe me.

(Now... I have to say, I’m glad Sharpton didn’t take O’Reilly to a movie theater in Harlem. Y’all know what I’m talking about...)

UPDATE (09/26/07): And fuck Keith Olbermann for trying to pump this thing up into an Imus-like shitstorm. (As if Olbermann’s heart bleeds for the hurt feelings of black people.) What O’Reilly said was comical. He deserves to be mocked, not compared with Al Campanis.

23 comments:

dez said...

(Now... I have to say, I’m glad Sharpton didn’t take O’Reilly to a movie theater in Harlem. Y’all know what I’m talking about...)

Heck, he can just go to my town's local theater where *everybody* talks back to the screen.

SJ said...

Olbermann is definitely a righteous ass I would agree, but he can be entertaining too.

Bill O'Reilly's account points out how a significant portion of white America (mostly conservatives I would say) doesn't come into contact with black America, hence they always have in their minds stereotypes about others. Spending a little time washes these stereotypes away rather quickly.

'M.F.-er, I want more iced tea.'

That comment just shows how people like BillO are completely out of touch.

The whole "blame the liberal media" crap has got to stop though...there's no such thing as the liberal media.

ItAintEazy said...

Come on, UBM, be fair. Keith Olbermann would be wrong NOT to go after BillO. He always does whenever O'Reilly makes a brainfart and this one was just a low-hanging fruit. If he makes one of his Special Comment regarding his Sylvia's comment, THEN you can cuss him out (you Negroes and your f-words :^)

On the other hand, it's interesting how the media outlets are tripping over themselves excusing O'Reilly's comment "Oh, he meant it as a compliment. What? All he was saying is that blacks don't always act like spear-chucking savages! What?!" No, I'm not going to trip, but color me unconvinced.

Edshugeo The GodMoor said...

'M.F.-er, I want more iced tea.'

I wonder if this'll make it into Nelson George's documentary.

I don't get the significance of this "issue", except that the Imus firing seems to have gotten some people overconfident about their abilities to strike down those they disagree with or just don't like.

Can't wait for the SNL/Mad TV spoofs, though.

justjudith said...

i think the iced tea comment was the one that really stood out to me. i've been black my whole life and i've never seen another black person utter anything like that in a restaurant. and his explanation tried to make it seem like he was giving a compliment -- he was misunderstood because he was really helping his viewers understand black people. i don't get the don imus correlation but what i don't appreciate about the bill o'reilly types is the lack of accountability. nothing is ever their fault and they have never made an error in judgment. it's always us misunderstanding them. blech.

CJB said...

Bill O'Reilly IS a skilled broadcaster. So, I think these comments were following the broadcasting rule that you should know your audience.

I believe that many people who listen to him WERE shocked to find out that a black owned and patronized restaurant isn't a crazed scene. They probably also gave Bill some "tough guy points" for daring to enter such a place.

The fact that these are the types who make him his money is why I just can't be a fan.

I can't look into his heart or behind the "broadcast persona" to know if he's evil or not. But I'm sure he provides aid and comfort to the mean-spirted and retarded.

And if you want to see people fart during dinner, go to a Cracker Barrel.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ And if you want to see people fart during dinner, go to a Cracker Barrel.

But they warn you with the name of the place, don't they? ;^)

Dougfp said...

^ Zing!!

BLACKinUSA said...

It's amazing how news became entertainment.
Interestingly, just reading a lot of posts here and elsewhere on this subject reminds all of us how racism IS and will probably always be part of American life. Be it subtle of overt.

Rocco Chappelle said...

I agree that Bill O is a talented broadcaster, but that doesn't justify his incoherent logic on many issues. I'm making no attempt to draw a direct correlation but, Hitler was a great orator, did that make him any less dangerous when many in the audience couldn't separate technical proficiency from the quality or the natural implications of the commentary?

On another note UBM, I just recently rented "Kingpin". Do the commercials for CBS's new show "Cane" strike a chord for you?

Thembi said...

What's crazy to me is that he claimed to be debunking myths that white people are holding about black people, but seems to have forgotten that HE is the one perpetuating them. All of the blanket statement mess he throws at the naive white person who really doesnt know much about us but in their gut believes we're animals is what passes for news these days.

ps- No offense, but Sylvia was some of the worst soul food I've ever had...the fact that Al Sharpton even took him there puzzles me.

memomachine said...

Hmmmm.

Please note: I'm a conservative, but not a fan of O'Reilly.

Frankly I think many of you are taking O'Reilly's comments out of context.

Washington Post

Were the comments unartful? Sure they were. But the point is, I think, valid that much of white America sees the black community through the lens of rappers. Which is a terrible injustice in of itself.

*shrug* frankly this episode illustrates an example that many conservatives have taken to heart. When Democrats err, forgiveness is immediate. When conservatives or Republicans err, that is never forgiven. Additionally the assumption by many blacks seems to be that conservatives and Republicans are either evil or deliberately anti-black right from the get-go.

So under these circumstances do you really blame conservatives and Republicans from simply avoiding you?

Consider Lt. Gov Cruz Bustamente of California who use the "n****r" name in front of a collection of black unionists.

Mother Jones

Do you remember it? Have you ever heard of it?

*shrug* consider the reception that President Bush got from the NAACP. Frankly a lot of conservatives are pretty close to simply writing off any political influence from the black community. Whether or not activists want the black community to be less tied to the Democrats, it may come to pass that there won't be a choice because conservatives and Republicans have been burned so many times by antagonistic black audiences that few conservatives or Republicans are willing to undergo the potential, and reality, of abuse.

What's really curious is that this is the 50th anniversary of Little Rock where a Republican President forced the issue of equality, and was remonstrated by Senators Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy.

It wasn't that long ago that the black community and the GOP/conservatives were allies and the Dixiecrats, ahem Senator Robert Byrd, were the enemies.

Curious how things change.

memomachine said...

Hmmmm.

@ UBM

But they warn you with the name of the place, don't they? ;^)

So does that apply if you go to a Chinese restaurant called "Wang's"??

:):)

Undercover Black Man said...

^ So does that apply if you go to a Chinese restaurant called "Wang's"??

No, Memo... but it would apply at a Thai restaurant named "Phuket." Would you expect good service at a place named Phuket? They would be like, "You no like it, phuket, you go somewhere else!"

Undercover Black Man said...

Rocco wrote: "... I just recently rented 'Kingpin'. Do the commercials for CBS's new show 'Cane' strike a chord for you?"

Well, we both ripped off "The Godfather," it looks like. So I suppose they do. ;^D

Undercover Black Man said...

"i think the iced tea comment was the one that really stood out to me."

Actually, justjudith, I think that's the one where he was most taken out of context. He was talking about how foul-mouthed rappers like Twista and Snoop Dogg shouldn't be considered representative of the black race.

On the business about he couldn't get over the fact that Sylvia's is just like any other restaurant, he expressed himself badly.

I think he was trying to say: "I can't get over how most white people don't realize that Sylvia's is just like any other restaurant in New York."

In any case, O'Reilly's got Jesse Jackson on tonight. First time Jesse's ever been on the show. That's popcorn viewing, people!

Jesse probably won't have time to talk about the Jena 6, with O'Reilly hung up on how his language is being parsed.

memomachine said...

Hmmmm.

You no like it, phuket, you go somewhere else!"

Score! ROFL!

That's a winner.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thanks, Memo. I've been waiting 10 years to use a "Phuket" joke.

Acanthus said...

UBM, I noticed that you referred to MediaMatters as a "left-wing" website. Could you cite some of the policy positions they espouse that suggest they are "left-wing"? Great blog, by the way.

Undercover Black Man said...

Acanthus, my disingenuous friend... I welcome you, but don't play games like this. One, it's not a slur to describe a website as "left-wing" or "right-wing"... it's an objective descriptor.

Two, Media Matters announces its own left-wing orientation by urging activism against "conservative misinformation."

The website says:

"You can join Media Matters for America in the fight against conservative misinformation in the media. We regularly provide action items based on our real-time monitoring of the media and conduct action campaigns to prevent the spread of conservative misinformation.

"Thousands of activists like you take advantage of these tools to hold the media accountable for spreading conservative misinformation."

Uhhh... okay. Now who's going to hold the media accountable for spreading liberal misinformation? (And there are shitloads of it.)

dez said...

Now who's going to hold the media accountable for spreading liberal misinformation? (And there are shitloads of it.)

Such as...? Not trying to be an asshole, but I'm definitely curious :-)

Acanthus said...

Hey, UBM...not being disingenous. There's no doubt that MediaMatters is run by liberal partisans, and I'm not denying that fact. It's just that their detractors commonly label them as "left wing", or even "far left". I have yet to read anything on MediaMatters that would lead me to believe they are "far left". That's all I'm saying.

"You can join Media Matters for America in the fight against conservative misinformation in the media. We regularly provide action items based on our real-time monitoring of the media and conduct action campaigns to prevent the spread of conservative misinformation.

"Thousands of activists like you take advantage of these tools to hold the media accountable for spreading conservative misinformation."

Right. Ok. That still doesn't say left-wing or far-left to me. As for who will hold the media accountable for liberal misinformation....well, there is the Media Reasearch Center and Accuracy In Media, to name a couple of outfits, and I think they both predate MediaMatters. It just seems to me that calling MediaMatters left-wing as opposed to liberal is buying into conservative (not necessarily right-wing) framing.

Thanks for welcoming me to your blog. It's one of my favorites, no shit.

Undercover Black Man said...

It's all good, Acanthus. "Left-wing," "liberal," "leftist"... those aren't slurs to me, regardless of the semantic tactics of the right.

I would not call Media Matters "far left" (as in socialist), but they're definitely partisan activists.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just so we know we're getting spun.