CNN’s ‘Newsroom,’ MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ Pile on O’Reilly

Less than a half-hour after Kiran Chetry and Roland Martin speculated whether O’Reilly’s recent comments on race would be the next "Imus Moment," the cast of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" mocked the Fox News host. Co-host Mika Brzezinski put on her best Meryl Streep imitation after a clip of O’Reilly’s comments were played. "Oh, my God.... Wow... That's attractive," and also made an audible Al Gore-style sigh. Guest host Willie Geist went further. "Also, using the term 'blacks.’ I don't think anybody's said that since like 1973." Come again?

Brzezinski, Geist, and host Joe Scarborough discussed O’Reilly at the top of the 8 am Eastern hour on Tuesday’s "Morning Joe." While the cast played the O’Reilly clip for the first time, a caption spun O’Reilly’s words: "O’Reilly Shocked That Harlem Restaurant is ‘Normal’ (see above picture). The three were so "overwhelmed" by the clip that they played it again.

Following the above-mentioned "blacks" comment, Geist went even further over-the-top. "What, what was he expecting? You walk in, and they throw the food in the middle of the room and everybody just, it's a free for all. What did he think was going to happen?" Scarborough concluded the segment by imitating Brzezinski’s "drama queen" routine. "It is shocking. So, I've got chills right now, going up and down my back. I'm gonna throw it over to you all and think I'm gonna take a shower."

[Update, 7 pm Eastern: Hat-tip to NewsBusters reader bigtimer for putting this on our radar]

Later, during the 2pm Eastern hour of CNN’s "Newsroom" program, host Don Lemon interviewed fellow CNN host Rick Sanchez, who had covered the O’Reilly comments on the September 24 edition of his "Out in the Open" program (Roland Martin made an appearance on this program). Sanchez discussed a conversation he had with O’Reilly during an attempt to get him on the program. "He said, ‘Look, to be fair now,’ this is what he says. He said, ‘This is totally -- it was a totally benign conversation. There was absolutely no racist intent,’ and I agree with him, by the way. I don't think there was. And he goes on to say that, ‘Look, we didn't get any complaints at my radio station.' But, you know, obviously, you know, that may have to do with his audience as well."

So, Sanchez thought there was "no racist intent" in O’Reilly’s word, but then hints that O’Reilly’s radio audience may be as "racially insensitive" as O’Reilly was?

A transcript of the segment from Tuesday’s "Morning Joe" on MSNBC:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, I just heard the most fascinating clip in my ear. Bill O'Reilly, on the syndicated talk show, on September the 19th, was describing a lunch with the Reverend Al Sharpton, and I will say no more; I'm just going to play it and let you be the judge of what he said.

BILL O'REILLY (voice-over): You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy, and he comes on The Factor a lot, and I treated him to dinner because he's made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time. And all the people up there are tremendously respectful, they all watch The Factor. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was, like, big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice. And 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 -- it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship; it was the same. And that's really what this society is all about, now, here in the U.S.A. There's no difference. There's no difference. You know, we, there may be a cultural entertainment people...

SCARBOROGH: Now, stop that for a second.

O'REILLY: ...may gravitate toward different cultural entertainment.

SCARBOROUGH: I want you to stop that for a second. I want you to rewind that back. I want to play that again.

MIKA BREZEZINSKI: I think I heard it, I just need to hear it again.

WILLIE GEIST: He sounded surprised that it was...

BREZEZINSKI: Yeah.

GEIST: ...like, civilized, that they had waiters and tablecloths.

SCARBOROUGH: I wrote this down. He said, 'I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference' between a restaurant run by people of color.

BREZEZINSKI: No, he didn't say that. Have we misunderstood?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, let's, let's play it again.

BREZEZINSKI: Okay.

SCARBOROUGH: I'm serious, this is the first time we're hearing this.

O'REILLY (voice-over): You know, I was up in Harlem a few weeks ago, and I actually had dinner with Al Sharpton, who is a very, very interesting guy, and he comes on The Factor a lot, and I treated him to dinner because he's made himself available to us, and I felt that I wanted to take him up there. And we went to Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time. And all the people up there are tremendously respectful, they all watch The Factor. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was, like, big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice. And 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 -- it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship; it was the same. And that's really what this society is all about, now...

SCARBOROUGH: So, anyway, he said...

O'REILLY (voice-over): ...here in the USA. There's no difference.

SCARBOROUGH: He said...

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, my God.

SCARBOROUGH: He could not...

BRZEZINSKI: Wow.

SCARBOROUGH: ...get over the fact that, his words, he could not get over the fact that there was no difference between that black restaurant and any other restaurant despite the fact, his words, despite the fact it was run by black people...

BREZEZINSKI: Hmm.

SCARBOROUGH: ...and the primary patrons...

BREZEZINSKI: That's attractive.

SCARBOROUGH: ...were black people.

GEIST: Sounds like Bill doesn't get up to Harlem a whole lot.

SCARBOROUGH: I don't think he does

BRZEZINSKI: It sounds like a lot of things are going on there, that I, I, I...

GEIST: Also, using the term 'blacks.' I don't think anybody's said that since like 1973.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, that, you know, it's just, it's very surprising that, that Bill O'Reilly would be stunned that you could go to a restaurant that is run by African Americans, and that it would be, his words again, 'I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between a black restaurant and a white restaurant.'

GEIST: What, what was he expecting? You walk in, and they throw the food in the middle of the room and everybody just, it's a free for all. What did he think was going to happen?

SCARBOROUGH: I don't know, he also was surprised that they were quote 'tremendously respectful.'

BRZEZINSKI: Oh great, here we go.

GEIST: Wow

BRZEZINSKI: I believe, whatever, it seems a little bit...

SCARBOROUGH: That's just strange. That's all I'm gonna say. Listen, O'Reilly is the king of cable, he's been number one for six years. That is fascinating, by the way, and I'm sure we're going to be hearing more about that throughout the day.

GEIST: And Sylvia's, of all places, which is, like, world famous, great restaurant. He was still surprised.

SCARBOROUGH: He could not get over the fact that there was no difference, even though the restaurant was run by black people.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, thanks, Bill O'Reilly. All righty.

SCARBOROUGH: It is shocking. So, I've got chills right now, going up and down my back. I'm gonna throw it over to you all, and think I'm gonna take a shower.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center