Looks like he’s not a factor anymore.
Bill O’Reilly’s apology to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) for his racist remarks about her appearance was a shock; even five years ago, he would not have expressed anything close to regret. It was a good thing to see O’Reilly apologize; it was even better to see Rep. Waters reject that apology as insincere.
As Media Matters notes, it was less than a decade ago that O’Reilly expressed amazement that patrons of a black-owned restaurant in New York City weren’t profane and aggessive in their behavior–in other words, he was shocked that those patrons didn’t act like Bill O’Reilly. He’s muttered all manner and manifestation of maliciousness towards minorities since. O’Reilly continued to spew venom at Waters after he apologized; one can only imagine what he wished he could call her on air.
April 4 marks the tenth anniversary of Don Imus making hate-filled remarks on air about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Who could have imagined ten years ago that a man every bit as verbally vicious as Imus would ooze his way into the White House? Who could have imagined ten years ago that a decade later, O’Reilly, Imus’s brother in bias, would still be blathering on Fox?
Waters clearly irritates O’Reilly. Good. O’Reilly cannot stand Waters for the same reason he couldn’t stand Keith Olbermann and Sen. Al Franken: all three individuals refused to allow him to get away with promoting alternative facts. O’Reilly, like Trump, wants as many Americans as possible to view his garbage as gospel; Waters, Olbermann and Franken have prevented him from achieving that goal.
Ted Koppel deserved the progressive plaudits he received when he called out O’Reilly’s colleague Sean Hannity last week. However, it can be argued that as bad as Hannity has been for America, O’Reilly is even worse. Say what you will about Hannity, but he does not pretend to be anything other than a hardcore right-wing partisan who wants rid of all vestiges of progressive thought in the United States. However, there are still far too many Americans who think O’Reilly is not as bad, not as partisan, not as dangerous as Hannity and Tucker Carlson, who buy into the notion that he’s not a full-on reactionary.
Remember when O’Reilly used to point to his ratings as “proof” of his credibility? His ratings success over the course of the past two decades is actually a testament to the gullibility of those who think he’s a straight shooter. Waters has more credibility in her much-maligned hair than O’Reilly has in his entire body–and that reality burns his soul.
UPDATE: More from Joy Reid.