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Bill O’Reilly’s comment about ‘well-fed slaves’ ignites Twitter

Bill O'Reilly responded to critics of his comments

Bill O'Reilly responded to critics of his comments on slavery, calling them "far left loons." Credit: AP / Invision / Paul Morigi

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly — who launched a tweetstorm on Tuesday’s “The O’Reilly Factor” with a comment about “well-fed” slaves, in referring to first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC on Monday — lashed out at critics — or “far left loons” — of the comment at the open of Wednesday’s edition.

In his “Talking Points Memo,” which led off the broadcast, O’Reilly said, “Slavery is an abomination, but reporting the story behind Mrs. Obama’s very valid points does not diminish the horror of slavery.”

On Tuesday’s program, O’Reilly — referring to Michelle Obama’s observation Monday that she wakes up every morning in a home “built by slaves” — said that while slaves did work on the early White House, then called the Executive Mansion, “they were well-fed and had decent lodging.”

He added, “free blacks and whites and immigrants also worked on the building.” After John and Abigail Adams “took up residence . . . they were still hammering nails. Slaves that worked here were well fed and had decent lodging provided by the government which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. So Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others as well.”

The Twitter firestorm broke after a New York Daily News story was later posted followed by a tweet that read: “Bill O’Reilly defends use of slaves to build White House, says they were well-fed.”

Wednesday morning, Shonda Rhimes — television’s most prominent African-American writer and producer — retweeted the article, saying, “The idiocy never ceases to amaze me. Try slavery, Bill. Let us know how good the food is while you wear chains.”

O’Reilly claimed Stephen King, Audra McDonald and Bryan Cranston had also criticized his comment.

Later on Wednesday’s edition, O’Reilly blasted the Daily News, and then in a “crosstalk” with contributors and anchors Geraldo Rivera and Eric Bolling, said, “It’s getting to the point of danger. They want me dead.”

In his “Talking Points” commentary at the top of the show, he said “as any honest historian knows, to keep slaves and free laborers strong, Washington’s administration provided meat, bread and other staples and decent lodging. That is a fact, not a justification and not a defense of slavery. Anyone who implies otherwise is beneath contempt.”


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