O’REILLY CALLS FOR LYNCHING PARTY FOR MICHELLE OBAMA
'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Feb. 20
Read the partial transcript
to the Wednesday show
OLBERMANN: Bill O‘Reilly, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: On February 12, celebrating black history month, President
Bush said some Americans do not understand the effect that references to nooses and lynching can still have. A month
earlier, Golf Channel sportscaster Kelly Tilghman said in order to have any hopes of defeating him, the younger rivals of
the game‘s greatest player may want to quote, “lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley.” She apologized.
Woods said he took no offense and considered her a friend and she accepted without protest a two week suspension.
But in our number one story tonight, Mr. Bush‘s most prominent TV cheerleader
did not merely ignore the president‘s plea for restraint on this exact issue, nor glean any guidance from Kelly Tilghman.
Bill O‘Reilly spoke on national radio for metaphorically lynching a black person, a black woman and not just any black
woman. First Mr. Bush‘s remarks from just last Tuesday.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For generations of African-Americans,
the noose was more than a tool of murder. It was a tool of intimidation that conveyed a sense of powerlessness to millions.
The era of rampant lynching is a shameful chapter in American history. The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice,
but of gross injustice. Displaying one is not a harmless prank. Lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest.
OLBERMANN: O‘Reilly yesterday acting on his radio show as though
he were defending Michelle Obama, shooting down a listener‘s claim that she is an angry woman by saying he must investigate
first to decide that for himself, then claiming he has sympathy for her and other public figures such as Bill Clinton leading
up to this clip, which we have not edited in any way. The operative word in this may not in fact be lynching, it may
be quote, unless.
O‘REILLY: They‘re thrown into a hopper where everybody is
waiting for them to make a mistake, so that they can just go and bludgeon them. Ands you know, Bill Clinton and I don‘t
agree on a lot of things and I think I‘ve made that clear over the years. But he‘s trying to stick up for his
wife. And every time the guy turns around, there‘s another demagogue or another ideologue in his face trying to
humiliate him because they‘re rooting for Obama. That‘s wrong. And I don‘t want to go on a lynching
party against Michelle Obama unless there‘s evidence, hard facts that say this is how the woman really feels.
If that‘s how she really feels, that America is a bad country or a flawed nation. Whatever, then that‘s
legit. We‘ll track it down.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s go now to Eugene Robinson, political analyst for
MSNBC and both columnist and associate editor at the “Washington Post.” Thanks for staying with us, Gene.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I‘m sorry it‘s under these circumstances.
ROBINSON: As am I.
OLBERMANN: Can you convey what Mr. Bush apparently failed to get through
to everybody, some sense of the obscenity, the moral obscenity involved in a national discussion of whether to launch a lynching
party against the black woman married to the black man running for president?
ROBINSON: I think you kind of said it, Keith. That‘s the offense.
You know what lynching was? Lynching was a horrific practice of murder, torture, dismemberment, burning alive, hanging, and
the only purpose of lynching was to perpetuate white supremacy in the Jim Crowe South.
It wasn‘t—the idea of course wasn‘t to lynch all black people,
but by lynching a few black people, not a few, by lynching some black people, to demonstrate to other African-Americans that
this could happen to you. That you have no power. That we have all the power and that we can take anything we
want from you, including your life.
There‘s nothing funning about lynching. There‘s certainly
nothing at all funny or remotely appropriate about the use of a lynching reference to talk about Michelle Obama and the word
unless, followed by we‘ll track it down, is way beyond the pail. I‘m almost speechless. But I have
more to say, of course.
OLBERMANN: As we both do. Hey, you‘re right. This is
about disenfranchising people. It wasn‘t just about killing people. The rest were disenfranchised and people
were essentially told black people will not take office, there will not be people in government.
ROBINSON: You will not vote. You will not own property that we don‘t
want you to own.
OLBERMANN: We will not do anything. How many incidents like this
does it take? And the Silvio‘s restaurant story and more iced tea now seems to lose all but one of its interpretations.
How many of these stories does it take before a fair observer concludes this man is not color blind, he is not reckless with
language, he has that insidious kind of low grade prejudice that we see in ordinary American society still, low grade prejudice
against black people.
ROBINSON: Well this is enough for me. But here‘s what‘s
going to happen. By tomorrow morning, some defender will come out and say “I know Bill O‘Reilly and he‘s
no racist.” And my response is, I don‘t care. How can anyone know what‘s in his heart, what‘s
in his soul? That is irrelevant to me. All you can go by is his words and his actions. And he keeps saying
these things that sound pretty darn racist to me.
OLBERMANN: He‘s not going to apologize, he‘s not going to
stop because the moment he would do that, he‘d have to admit that he was wrong, there was a reason for him to stop.
I mean, do people have to then start nevermind talking to him, but talk to people who are keeping him on the air? Call
Westwood One, the radio proprietors of his show, or his boss at FOX News Roger Ailes or the advertisers and say get rid of
the guy, suspend him, whatever, or give up being accepted in 21st century American society where this is not tolerated
ROBINSON: Well I think that‘s what happens. I think frankly
that‘s basically what happened to Don Imus. And the reason he lost his job at MSNBC and CBS although he‘s
now back on the radio. I think television is a bit different from radio. I don‘t know that this will create
a huge splash. Radio is a more kind of - it‘s a medium where people can kind of be alone with their prejudices
and so it might just slip by.
OLBERMANN: I hope not. Eugene Robinson of the “Washington
Post” and MSNBC. Especially under the circumstances, thanks Gene.
Good to be here, Keith, see you tomorrow night.