During an appearance on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly said he can’t listen to what California Congresswoman Maxine Waters has to say because she has a distracting “James Brown wig.” The comment was seen by many as racist. O’Reilly later issued an apology, saying that he made a “jest about her hair that was dumb.”
After Fox News played a clip from Waters’ Monday speech on the floor of Congress, O’Reilly told the Fox & Friends co-host that he “didn’t hear a word she said.”
“I was looking at the James Brown wig,” O’Reilly said, while his co-hosts laughed hysterically. “If we have a picture of James Brown… It’s the same one.”
The one Fox & Friends co-host who didn’t think any of this was funny was Ainsley Earhardt, who told O’Reilly that he can’t criticize a woman for her looks. “I think she’s very attractive,” Earhardt added.
“I love James Brown, but it’s the same hair, James Brown — alright, the godfather of soul — had,” O’Reilly insisted. “Whatever it is, I just couldn’t get by it.”
Bill O’Reilly sent the following statement to Heavy.com:
As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs. I said that again today on Fox & Friends, calling her ‘old school.’ Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologize.
Several users on Twitter accused O’Reilly of being racist for this comment.
Angela Rye, a CNN contributor, told O’Reilly he can “go straight to hell” for his comments:
Actress Sophia Bush added:
O’Reilly has been accused of racism in the past. In December, he told his viewers that the Left only wanted to abolish the Electoral College after Trump’s victory to take power away from the “white establishment.”
Waters, who has been in Congress since 1991, delivered a speech on the House floor Monday, suggesting that President Donald Trump’s supporters aren’t as patriotic as those who criticize him. She’s also been an outspoken Trump critic herself on Twitter. On March 21, she told her followers to “get ready for impeachment.”
“He won,” Waters told Elle Magazine. “And so I’m out to get him. And when he talked about grabbing women? Okay? I’m out to get him. I’m gonna see him out of office. And I think it’s going to happen. Get ready for impeachment.”
Waters has also called for an independent investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes‘ decision to share information with the White House before the other members of the committee.