The brand new Republican Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, is still sweating out the controversy over his having spoken to a white supremacist organization as a candidate for office in Louisiana. The tale has taken some twists and turns with criticism coming from both Democrats and Republicans. Sean Hannity of Fox News even went so far as to call for the resignation of GOP Speaker John Boehner for defending Scalise.
The worst thing that can come of this melodrama is for it to lead to an increased media presence for David Duke, the overtly racist leader of the group to which Scalise spoke. But that is precisely what is happening. Duke first appeared on CNN with Michael Smerconish in a debate that provided little to no news value. And now, Bill O’Reilly added to Duke’s PR campaign by inviting him on to participate in a typical O’Reilly shouting match aimed more at producing ratings rather than knowledge. (Video below)
However, what really made the O’Reilly segment disturbing is that O’Reilly spent most of it agreeing with Duke and took great pains to avoid calling him a white supremacist. Each time that the conversation provided an opportunity for O’Reilly to properly label Duke, O’Reilly seemed to chicken out in mid-sentence. For instance, there was this cowardly utterance by O’Reilly:
“Don’t sit there and tell me you’re not a white … your organization isn’t looking out for the white European race.”
What made O’Reilly stop short just as he was about to say “white supremacist,” and instead use the very words that Duke uses to describe himself? Duke’s entire phony persona is one of an advocate for the rights of European Americans who is not opposed to anyone else’s rights. Of course, the historical record, rampant with bigotry against blacks and Jews, shows that he is lying. So why did O’Reilly help to advance that facade? It gave Duke the opportunity to respond saying…
“I’m looking out for the rights of all Americans. I also believe that European-Americans shouldn’t be discriminated against in jobs or scholarships or any other way.”
To which O’Reilly responded “Yeah, alright,” in effect agreeing with Duke. That shouldn’t surprise anyone because it is a position that O’Reilly has taken himself as a long-standing opponent of affirmative action.
And that wasn’t the only time in the interview that O’Reilly agreed with Duke. Later Duke tried to make a derogatory association between the late Nelson Mandela and President Obama, implying that the President had affiliated himself with communists. There also, O’Reilly agreed and even bragged that he had reported that. Then Duke complained that the media had not reported Mandela’s alleged communist ties (which is false), which O’Reilly also agreed with saying “That’s because there’s sympathetic (sic) in the mainstream media for the left.” Duke replied “Exactly.”
If it isn’t bad enough that O’Reilly continually agreed with Duke, he made things worse by demonstrating a profound ignorance of culture and history. Duke asserted that he loved his (white) people and wanted to preserve his heritage. This confused O’Reilly and led to this idiotic exchange:
O’Reilly: Preserve your heritage? What does that mean?
Duke: You don’t know what European heritage is? You don’t know what Mozart is, and Bach, and Beethoven?
O’Reilly: They’re people. They come from different countries.
Indeed, they are people. O’Reilly nailed that one. However, they are all European people, and Mozart and Beethoven are both from the same country, Germany. Bach was from neighboring Austria (as was Hitler), but spent most of his professional life in Germany (as did Hitler). Duke did not raise these particular people accidentally, and O’Reilly managed to embarrass himself by his ignorance. Furthermore, O’Reilly didn’t bother to repudiate Duke’s closing comments that illustrated his antisemitism. However, he did take another opportunity to weasel out of calling Duke what he is:
“The one thing you said – I wanna get everybody on board with this – is that Congressman Scalise was scheduled – I’m not gonna say white supremacist – but he was scheduled to speak to your group.”
What is that O’Reilly finds so difficult about calling Duke a white supremacist? Why even bother to have him on the program if you’re going to let him off the hook? And how could O’Reilly find so many areas of agreement with him? The real question that all of this raises is: What does this say about Bill O’Reilly?
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