Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly said Wednesday his critics took remarks he made about a famed Harlem restaurant out of context and "fabricated a racial controversy where none exists." He criticized the liberal group Media Matters for America as "smear merchants" for publicizing statements he made on his radio show last week.
O'Reilly told his radio audience that he dined with civil rights activist Al Sharpton at Sylvia's recently and "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference" between the black-run restaurant and others in New York City.
It was just like a suburban Italian restaurant, he said. "There wasn't any kind of craziness at all," he said.
O'Reilly told The Associated Press that Media Matters had "cherry-picked" remarks out of a broader conversation about racial attitudes. He had told listeners that his grandmother -- and many other white Americans -- feared blacks because they didn't know any and were swayed by violent images in black culture.
I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks.
And that’s really what this society’s all about now here in the U.S.A. There’s no difference. There’s no difference. There may be a cultural entertainment — people may gravitate toward different cultural entertainment, but you go down to Little Italy, and you’re gonna have that. It has nothing to do with the color of anybody’s skin.
White Convicts As Likely to Be Hired As Blacks Without Criminal Records
Anyone claiming that racism is no longer alive and well in the United States, in addition to considering the race-driven circumstances surrounding the Jena 6, or statistics demonstrating that prosecutors are far more likely to seek the death penalty when the victim is white than when the victim is black (particularly if the defendant is black), or studies demonstrating that blacks receive harsher sentences than whites for equivalent drug crimes, or the fact that even though more whites per capita smoke marihuana than blacks, blacks are arrested and prosecuted at a far higher rate, should read a recent study by Princeton University examining employment discrimination titled “Discrimination in Low Wage Labor Markets.”
In the largest and most comprehensive project of its kind to date, 13 young male applicants, presenting the same qualifications and experience, split into teams and went on nearly 3,500 entry-level job interviews with private companies in supposedly left-leaning, "progressive", multicultural New York City, jobs ranging from restaurants to manufacturing to financial services. After recording which applicants were invited back for interviews or were offered jobs, two sociology professors looked at the hiring practices of 1,500 prospective private employers, focusing specifically on discrimination against young male minorities and ex-offenders.
Some of the study's findings are depressingly familiar. For instance, young white high school graduates were twice as likely to receive positive responses from New York employers as equally qualified black job seekers. It also reaffirmed not only that former prisoners are at a distinct disadvantage in the job market, but also that, again, black ex-prisoners are in a much worse position: positive responses from employers towards white applicants with a criminal record dipped 35 percent, while for black applicants similarly situated it plummeted 57 percent.
However, the study revealed that our society's racism extends even deeper: black applicants with no criminal record were no more likely to get a job than white applicants with criminal records just released from prison! In other words, while whites with criminal records received low rates of positive responses, such response rates were equally low for blacks without a criminal background. Further exposing the overt racism at play was the study's finding that minority employers were more accepting of minority applicants and job applicants with prison records.
His radio show was a conversation with Fox News contributor Juan Williams, author of a book about the coarseness of some black culture. Williams defended O'Reilly during a Tuesday appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor."
"It's so frustrating," Williams said. "They want to shut you up. They want to shut up anybody who has an honest discussion about race."