Bolling concedes, ‘We did go a bit too far’

On Friday, Fox Business host Eric Bolling offered the kind of racist remarks rarely seen on national television, and after some pushback, the right-wing host backpedalled last night.

“On Friday, we did a story about the president meeting with the president of Gabon,” Bolling said. “We got a little fast and loose with the language, and we know it’s been interpreted as being disrespectful, and for that, I’m sorry. We did go a bit too far.”

I don’t mean to sound ungracious, and I’m glad Bolling is “sorry,” but characterizing his unabashed, leave-the-dog-whistle-at-home-style racism as “a bit too far” suggests Bolling doesn’t fully appreciate the situation.

On Friday night, Bolling noted that President Obama will welcome the president of Gabon to the White House, telling viewers, “Guess who’s coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa’s kleptocrats. It’s not first time he’s had a hoodlum in the hizzouse.” At that point, viewers were shown footage of the rapper Common.

Bolling went on to say, “Smile for the birdie. Our president’s sitting with one of Africa’s most wanted. It’s not the first time he’s had a hood in the big crib.” This time, an image of Ali Bongo with a flashing tooth was aired. Bolling added that Obama and Gabon perhaps “watched a basketball game” together, and asked, “So what’s with all the hoods in the hizzy?”

Jeffrey Goldberg had a good take on this.

This is psychologically fascinating: The mind of Fox Business host Eric Bolling, when confronted with images of President Obama meeting with Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo, instantly recalls other black people who have met with President Obama, and comes to the conclusion that Obama feels deep love for black “hoodlums.” […]

Let us put aside the fact that Common, the “hood” who was visiting Obama’s “hizzhouse,” is really not much of a hood, comparatively speaking. And let us put aside the fact that Gabon’s president, while a disreputable person, was visiting the White House not only in his capacity as president of his country but because Gabon currently holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council. Bolling sees images of two black people who are entirely unrelated to each other and draws the conclusion that our black president adores all black people, in particular black people Bolling believes are miscreants.

This is more than just going “a bit too far.”

I’d also note for context that Bolling hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, as Media Matters documented yesterday, this latest incident from the far-right Fox host “is just the latest amid a growing list of unacceptable and bizarre racially charged comments Bolling has made.”

I’m glad Bolling is “sorry.” I’d be even more pleased if his ugly worldview didn’t lead him to say things like this in the first place.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.