The Fox News host appeared on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning, where co-hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade asked O’Reilly to respond to comments Waters had made on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
We have suffered because of discrimination. We have suffered isolation and undermining, but we stand up for America, oftentimes with others who think they are more patriotic, who say they are more patriotic. When we fight against this president and point out how dangerous he is for society and for this country, we’re fighting for the democracy.
The California congresswoman went on to say that sometimes those claiming to be more patriotic “turn a blind eye to the destruction he [Trump] is about to cause this country.”
Doocy joked about Waters’ remarks in the lead-in to O’Reilly, saying that he had been “listening all morning” but didn’t understand it.
O’Reilly responded: “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.”
The comment drew laughter from both Doocy and Kilmeade, but Earhardt wasn’t so amused.
“No, OK, I’ve got to defend her on that. You can’t go after woman’s looks,” Earhardt said. “I think she’s very attractive.”
O’Reilly pointed out he never said she wasn’t attractive, but again noted how Waters’ hair is “the same” as that of Brown.
“So he had girl hair?” Earhardt asked O’Reilly.
“Whatever it is, I just couldn’t get by it,” O’Reilly said.
O’Reilly continued by calling Waters a “sincere individual” who believes “whatever she says.”
“She’s not a phony. And that’s old school,” O’Reilly said.
The Fox host’s comment set off a firestorm on social media, with a number of users calling O’Reilly’s remark “sexist” and “racist.”
“Dear @FoxNews: Bill O’Reily is racist and should be removed from your airwaves. Vile,” Jordan Horowitz, producer of the movie “La La Land,” tweeted.
“Fire Fox News Bill O’Reilly “I didn’t hear a word” Rep. Maxine Waters said because he was focused on ‘the James Brown wig’ 100% Racist! rt,” Jerry Saltz, senior art critic at New York Magazine wrote.
And MSNBC host Joy Reid chimed in, saying, “Does @FoxNews have a standards and practices department? Because there’s not a news organization I know of where this could fly.”
O’Reilly has since issued an apology for the “dumb” statement.
“As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs. I said that today on ‘Fox and Friends’ calling her ‘old school.’ Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair, which was dumb. I apologize,” O’Reilly said in the statement.
A spokeswoman for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze.