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MSNBC Distorts 'Lester Maddox' O'Reilly While Accusing O'Reilly of Distortion

Media Research CenterOn Wednesday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC host Al Sharpton not only accused FNC's Bill O'Reilly and other right-leaning hosts of "distorting" the actions of Democrats on the issue of racial "grievance," but the MSNBC host for the third time in the past couple of weeks recounted and distorted comments O'Reilly made in September 2007 about his trip to a predominantly black restaurant in Harlem.

MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor compared O'Reilly to 1960s segregationist Lester Maddox, a Democratic governor of Georgia known for trying to undermine the Civil Rights Movement.

Sharpton recounted that President Obama and other Democrats are trying to have a "serious conversation about race," playing several clips, and then turned to complaining about reaction from O'Reilly and other right-leaning figures:

Getting the conversation started, the first step in making change. But to have the O'Reilly, Hannity crowd, it was just an excuse to distort.

After playing clips of O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, Sharpton brought up O'Reilly's trip to Sylvia's restaurant in 2007 when the FNC host's comments about the experience were taken out of context by the left to smear him. Sharpton:

The problem is these talkers come at these issues from a strange, odd view of the world. I mean, should we really take advice from someone who said this about visiting a restaurant in Harlem?

Sharpton replayed the clip of O'Reilly from 2007 and then turned to guest Taylor, who began her analysis by invoking Lester Maddox to attack conservatives:

You know, it harkens back to here in Georgia where we had Lester Maddox, you know, who Bill O'Reilly actually reminds me of with some of his speech. You know, Lester Maddox called Dr. King a race hustler, said that he was divisive, said that he was bad for America. And so we're hearing the same kind of rhetoric play itself out today.

Sharpton had previously used the distorted O'Reilly clip last week on Thursday and then again on Friday.

After bringing up Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who took part in the Civil Rights Movement, the MSNBC host again brought up O'Reilly's trip to Sylvia's restaurant as he concluded:

I would rather take his word for the fact that we still have things to do than to take the word of someone who was surprised in a restaurant in Harlem that people weren't yelling yo M-Fer, I need some iced tea. I'm only quoting him, and I think his own words define his cultural view and his exposure to all Americans.

Sharpton also bristled at recent comments by FNC's Sean Hannity in which he mocked President Obama for comparing himself to Trayvon Martin, and, ignoring reports of drug abuse by Martin, the MSNBC host portrayed him as someone who "clearly did nothing wrong." Sharpton:

So you're talking about the President part of a gang and all of this and saying, in effect, Trayvon Martin was some kind of drug user upon his death. I mean, yet they want to call other people names and when you can be that insensitive to a young man who clearly did nothing wrong and was killed.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Wednesday, July 31, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: Coming up, some on the right continue polluting and distorting an honest conversation on race. I'll show you why their lectures aren't worth listening to.

(...)

SHARPTON: We're starting to see real conversation on race and justice in America, but some are distorting and mocking it. Anyone want to take a wild guess who it might be? That's next.

(...)

SHARPTON: President Obama has called on the nation to have a serious conversation on race, and we're starting to see that happen, with Democrats in Congress holding a hearing on race and justice in America.

(...)

SHARPTON: Getting the conversation started, the first step in making change. But to have the O'Reilly, Hannity crowd, it was just an excuse to distort.

BILL O'REILLY, FROM FNC'S THE O'REILLY FACTOR, CLIP #1: Nancy Pelosi going to the aid of the grievance industry: That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo." Today, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, headed by Mrs. Pelosi, held hearings entitled, "A Conversation on Race and Justice in America."

O'REILLY CLIP #2: The problem with this kind of propaganda is that many people believe it, especially overseas where they don't understand what the race hustle is all about.

SHARPTON: The same stuff we've heard the right spew for weeks. They can't stand the idea of honestly addressing these issues.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Obama is all about creating chaos and upsetting the order of things.

GLENN BECK: The man who was supposed to unite the United States of America is an expert on the most divisive form of politics in existence today.

SHARPTON: The problem is these talkers come at these issues from a strange, odd view of the world. I mean, should we really take advice from someone who said this about visiting a restaurant in Harlem?

O'REILLY, 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: Or would you listen when this guy calls someone divisive?

BECK: This President, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seeded hatred for white people-

SHARPTON: And advice from this guy?

LIMBAUGH: In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, yay, right on, right on, right on, right on.

SHARPTON: Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. Clearly, these guys do, but they have some knowledge, I would hope, at least they should have, about at least what they're talking about.

(...)

SHARPTON: Goldie, they mock the conversation but have no credibility on race issues. What's your reaction?

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it harkens back to here in Georgia where we had Lester Maddox, you know, who Bill O'Reilly actually reminds me of with some of his speech. You know, Lester Maddox called Dr. King a race hustler, said that he was divisive, said that he was bad for America. And so we're hearing the same kind of rhetoric play itself out today. I think that it's unfortunate, really, that we're at a time in this country where we've advanced so far in terms of human and civil rights in this country -- and, yes, we do have quite a ways to go -- it's quite unfortunate to find these kinds of voices really sort of holding that conversation back, keeping it off the table and keeping us more and more divided.

(...)

SHARPTON: And you're a race hustler and you won't deal with issues like black crime or like things in the family when, you know, Goldie, when a young 15-year-old black girl was killed earlier this year in Chicago, Hadiya Pendleton, on this show months before Bill O'Reilly then discovered violence in Chicago, two days after she was killed we had her mother on this show to talk about it. Watch this.

(...)

SHARPTON: I mean, we dealt with that issue right there with Hadiya. The First Lady went to Hadiya's funeral. They were guests. Fine woman you just saw. They were guests at the President's State of the Union. We dealt with this issue. We dealt last year when people talked about Newtown, we said, let's talk about Newtown and Chicago. They discovered it only just so they seemingly didn't have to deal with the real issues around the Zimmerman trial that had nothing to do with what we all were talking about in terms of crime in places like Chicago. So there's a strategy here to distract.

TAYLOR: Well, you know, I think, Reverend Al, we can't legislate how someone feels in their heart. We can't legislate away bigotry or racism. We can't legislate away those prejudices. What we can do, though, is to keep those things from playing themselves out in public policy. And so we can keep them from drying up resources for education. We can keep them-

SHARPTON: Right.

TAYLOR: -from over-policing our neighborhoods and over-criminalizing our children and creating a school-to-prison pipeline. And so we can keep them from passing onerous or draconian voter suppression laws. And so while I cannot legislate what happens in the heart of mankind, I can legislate how that plays out and how that keeps people from reaching their full potential in these United States. And I think that's our real job here. For their part, you know, this is about economics.

SHARPTON: Yeah.

TAYLOR: This is about driving fear and getting more viewers to tune in every night.

(...)

SHARPTON: When the President was addressing the country on race, Hannity even managed to smear Trayvon Martin, a dead young man, while he was dealing with the President's address. Watch this.

SEAN HANNITY, FNC: Well, now the President is saying Trayvon could have been me 35 years ago. Oh, that's, this is a particularly helpful comment. Is that the President's admitting that I guess because what? He was part of the Choom gang and he smoked pot and he did a little blow?

SHARPTON: I mean, so you're talking about the President part of a gang and all of this and saying in effect Trayvon Martin was some kind of drug user upon his death. I mean, yet they want to call other people names and when you can be that insensitive to a young man who clearly did nothing wrong and was killed.

(...)

SHARPTON: You know, Goldie, John Lewis is the only surviving member of the main big six sponsors of the march on Washington 50 years ago. He's the only left that spoke there. He'll be speaking at our march in August of this year. Let me show you what he said today about what we face 50 years later.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): Violence, poverty, hunger, long-term unemployment, homelessness, voting rights, and the need to protect human dignity. We have come a great distance, but we are not finished yet. For a struggle is not a struggle that lasts one day, one week, one month, or one year. It is a struggle of a lifetime to build a beloved community, but to redeem the soul of America.

SHARPTON: So John Lewis, who was beaten on Edmund Pettus Bridge 48 years ago to lead to the Voting Rights Act, who was the speaker with Dr. King and others 50 years ago and will be standing with us now. I would rather take his word for the fact that we still have things to do than to take the word of someone who was surprised in a restaurant in Harlem that people weren't yelling yo M-Fer, I need some iced tea. I'm only quoting him, and I think his own words define his cultural view and his exposure to all Americans.

-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center