MSNBC Resurrects Smear on FNC's O'Reilly, 'Racial Stereotyping' to 'Distract' from Gun Laws

On Thursday's PoliticsNation show, MSNBC's Al Sharpton used FNC host Bill O'Reilly's comments against certain segments of black culture to resurrect a 2007 smear against O'Reilly which mischaracterized him as being shocked to see patrons at a predominantly black restaurant in Harlem behaving in a civilized manner when the FNC host in reality was criticizing the media for portraying African-Americans so differently from reality.

Appearing as a guest, MSNBC contributor Joy Reid attacked "people on the right" as she complained:

The exoticization of African-Americans by people on the right is what is so galling, this notion that we are something from another planet, that you have to go and visit us as if you were visiting some sort of terrarium where you look in and you're, like, oh my goodness, they're actually not throwing things at each other.

A bit later, she accused conservatives of having an ulterior motive of trying to use "racial stereotyping" to "distract" attention away from the need for changes in gun laws:

And the other distraction, I think ... is that this is also a very flashy attempt to use the shiny keys of racial stereotyping to distract from the issue of gun laws because the reason they want to do anything, even throwing out the most vile notions about black people to distract folks is that they don't want to talk about the gun laws that we talked about in the first segment, things like Stand Your Ground that are being proliferated by the NRA and ALEC are the real problem. And they don't want to talk about it because they know that reasonable people will look at laws like Stand Your Ground and say you know what, that really might not be reasonable.

She added:

We may need to fight the NRA. And what Fox News and talk radio are, at the end of the day, are handmaidens of big business, handmaidens of corporations, including gun manufacturers. They do their bidding at all times and in any way possible. This is about stopping reasonable people from passing sane gun laws and amending things like Stand Your Ground.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the segment from the Thursday, July 25, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: The Zimmerman trial and the President's speech sparked a national debate on race in America, but all week many on the right, including Bill O'Reilly, have been distorting the conversation by attacking the President and the civil rights community. Listen to this from last night.

BILL O'REILLY, FNC: So it's clear that people are pushing racial injustice that they believe happened in the Zimmerman trial. They don't really want to talk about complicated racial problems in general. What the grievance industry does want is to divide the country along racial lines because that's good for business. And they may be succeeding.

SHARPTON: Trying to divide the country? Fifty years from the march on Washington and there are serious issues that need attention on voting rights, on equal justice, on civil rights. But Mr. O'Reilly has the problems in the African-American community figured out.

O'REILLY: "Talking Points" believes that the collapse in the African-American traditional family is the primary reason the gap between blacks and whites is so large. And, as I said at the top of this memo, our leadership simply will not deal with that issue, and that is why we have this problem.

SHARPTON: Why is Bill O'Reilly talking about the African-American family? It's hard to take much of this race talk seriously. I took Bill to Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem for dinner in 2007. Here's how he described it afterwards:

O'REILLY, AUDIO FROM THE RADIO FACTOR: There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."

JUAN WILLIAMS, FNC: Please.

O'REILLY: You know, I mean, everybody was, it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there and they were ordering and having fun, and there wasn't any kind of craziness at all.

SHARPTON: Imagine that, no craziness in a restaurant, no one screaming, "I want more iced tea, M-Fer." That's what the self-appointed expert on black families said. And listen to Bill talk about a concert he went to:

O'REILLY: I went to the concert by Anita Baker at Radio City Music Hall, and the crowd was 50/50, black/white, and the blacks were well-dressed, and she came out, Anita Baker came out on stage and said, "Look, this is a show for the family. We aren't going to have any profanity here. We're not going to do any rapping here." The band was excellent, but they were dressed in tuxedos. And, you know, this is what white America doesn't know, particularly people who don't have a lot of interaction with black Americans. They think that the culture is dominated by Twista, Ludacris and Snoop Dog.

SHARPTON: Yes, this is the same guy attacking the President and the civil rights community on race this week. Not much of a contribution to the debate, that's for sure. ... I mean, Joy, how can you believe anyone, I mean, how can anyone believe he's credible on the issue of race?

JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I'm going to propose a syllogism. I think that if you are shocked that black people eat with knives and forks and don't throw food at restaurants and that they need to be dressed up in tuxedos and then you're, like, shocked that they actually dress in clothes, they're not running around with spears. Why doesn't he just add that, too? If that is your attitude toward black people, let's say you probably shouldn't talk about it.

SHARPTON: I played the tape, and I went to dinner with him, and this was his reaction to someone else on the radio show about what he saw in a Harlem restaurant.

REID: The exoticization of African-Americans by people on the right is what is so galling, this notion that we are something from another planet, that you have to go and visit us as if you were visiting some sort of terrarium where you look in and you're, like, oh my goodness, they're actually not throwing things at each other.

The conversation that the right wants to have about race comes from the same place as the 47 percent comments, this notion that African-Americans are all violent felons and deadbeats. And then they want to start the so-called conversation on race there. Do they not understand that hip-hop music is consumed mostly by white young men, that they are the majority of hip-hop customers?

SHARPTON: And many of us in the civil rights community, including me, who try to work with the hip-hoppers but denounce the language. And I still denounce it, even though we're trying to reach these kids.

(...)

SHARPTON: Now, Joy, and I want to be clear, all of us are going to continue fighting against violence in the community. I mean, we've done that for years and will continue to do that and deal with violence, and deal with all of the misbehavior in terms of our family structures and I will continue to fight hip-hoppers. I'm working with them, trying to get them to understand me. They understand, me understand them. We are going to continue to do that. But you can't do that and excuse injustices in the community because then you don't have the credibility to even address the issues in the community.

REID: Yeah, just like we could eat at Sylvia's with knives and forks and not throw things, we can also talk, walk and chew gum at the same time on issues of violence within the community and issues of gun violence outside of it. And the other distraction, I think, in addition to what David Brock mentioned, is that this is also a very flashy attempt to use the shiny keys of racial stereotyping to distract from the issue of gun laws.

SHARPTON: Right.

REID: Because the reason they want to do anything, even throwing out the most vile notions about black people to distract folks is that they don't want to talk about the gun laws that we talked about in the first segment. Things like Stand Your Ground that are being proliferated by the NRA and ALEC are the real problem. And they don't want to talk about it because they know that reasonable people will look at laws like Stand Your Ground and say, you know what, that really might not be reasonable.

We may need to fight the NRA. And what Fox News and talk radio are, at the end of the day, are handmaidens of big business, handmaidens of corporations, including gun manufacturers. They do their bidding at all times and in any way possible. This is about stopping reasonable people from passing sane gun laws and amending things like Stand Your Ground.

SHARPTON: And that's very important as we continue to deal with gun laws and the other issues. And let me stay this. We don't just want to single out one person, but we do want to set the record straight. And we're not going to allow them to decide the conversation that we're going to have in this country. We should be discussing it all and not be censored or limited to just one view that excuses anything that ought to be on the table and discussed.