Tuesday morning, Fox News political commentator Bill O’Reilly started a media firestorm when he made fun of California Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Specifically, O’Reilly joked that he could not pay attention to Waters speech because he was too distracted by her “James Brown wig.”
That comment, as CBS News reports, has prompted plenty of controversy — including a growing call for the veteran Fox News host to be fired for his “racist” and “sexist” remarks:
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) March 28, 2017
As Mediate notes, those condemning O’Reilly have run the gamut from Hollywood players:
Bill O'Reilly is coming for Rep. Maxine Waters–by making racist jokes about her hair. That tells you all you need to know about him.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 28, 2017
— Jordan Horowitz (@jehorowitz) March 28, 2017
To critics and journalists:
O'Reilly crosses a huge, bright, red line: says he "couldn't hear a word Rep. Maxine Waters said because of her 'James Brown wig." https://t.co/OPGj6Y09dF
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) March 28, 2017
O'Reilly should be fired. He's a racist disgrace. Waters has been a brave, clear voice deftly cutting through Trump admin bullshit. https://t.co/YrGqe8UUPX
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) March 28, 2017
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 28, 2017
Fire the shit out of this smug & racist asshole. https://t.co/2oNodMUM7K
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 28, 2017
To progressive media watchdog group Media Matters for America:
— Media Matters (@mmfa) March 29, 2017
Hours later, O’Reilly did apologize, dedicating the opening segment of his show to reflect on his comment on Waters.
Saying that he shouldn’t have made the “jest about her hair, which was dumb,” O’Reilly added:
“Talking Points believes Ms. Waters is totally sincere in her belief system and although many Americans disagree with her extremism at times, she deserves a hearing and should not be marginalized by political opponents.
In fact I made that mistake this morning on Fox & Friends. I said in a simple jest that the congresswoman’s hair distracted me. Well that was stupid. I apologize. It had no place in the conversation.”
Waters, for her part, has since said that she’s “a strong, black woman” who “cannot be intimidated … undermined” or “thought to be afraid of Bill O’Reilly or anybody.”
The California Democrat took that notion even further, saying:
“Don’t allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate or scare you. Be who you are and do what you do.
When a woman stands up and speaks truth to power, there will be attempts to put her down.”
Waters — who has represented California in Congress since 1991 — added that she’s “not going to go anywhere,” vowing to “stay on the issues.”