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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. Waters called for investigation into Trump administration ties to Russia. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Over the line

Maxine Waters fires back at Bill O’Reilly’s ‘James Brown wig’ remark

By WITW Staff on March 29, 2017

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly added to his reputation on Tuesday morning by mocking the hair of senior African-American congresswoman Maxine Waters of California by comparing it to a “James Brown wig.”

Appearing on Fox & Friends, O’Reilly shared footage of Waters, who has in the past suggested that Donald Trump should be impeached, as she defended the patriotism of Americans who object to the U.S. president’s policies.

“We have suffered discrimination. We have suffered isolation and undermining,” said Waters. “But we stand up for America, often times when others who think they are more patriotic, who say they are more patriotic, do not.”

“When we fight against this president and we point out how dangerous he is for this society and for this country, we’re fighting for the democracy. We’re fighting for America,” she added. “We’re saying to those who say they’re patriotic, but they turned a blind eye to the destruction he’s about to cause this country: ‘You’re not nearly as patriotic as we are.’”

Asked by his Fox & Friends colleagues about what he thought of Waters’ speech, O’Reilly had only had an insult to offer. “I didn’t hear a word she said,” O’Reilly claimed. “I was looking at the James Brown wig.”

Commenters online denounced O’Reilly for attacking Waters’ hair instead of her ideas, a tactic that critics decried as “sexist, and uncalled for” and “openly racist.”

O’Reilly has since apologized for his “jest” about Water’s hair, telling The Washington Post in an email that it was simply a “dumb” comment.

No stranger to controversy, O’Reilly has been prone to similarly “dumb” comments throughout the years. Last year, O’Reilly defended Fox News CEO Roger Ailes amidst news that he had sexually harassed employees, and even attacked former Fox News host Megyn Kelly for helping expose the wrongdoing because it “[made] my network look bad.”

Last April, in an interview with then presidential candidate Donald Trump, O’Reilly drew fire for making racially charged comments about black Americans.

“How are you going to get jobs for them?” O’Reilly asked. “Many of them are ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads, and I hate to be generalized about it, but it’s true.”

On Tuesday night, Waters addressed O’Reilly’s remarks head on.

“Let me just say this: I’m a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined. I cannot be thought to be afraid of Bill O’Reilly or anybody,” said Waters. “And I’d like to say to women out there everywhere: Don’t allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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