NEW YORK, N.Y. — Conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly is under fire after comments he made about Rep. Maxine Waters’ hair went viral.
During a Tuesday morning appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends”, O’Reilly, when asked about Waters’ comments about president Trump’s patriotism while speaking on the House floor, said that he “didn’t hear a word” Waters said because he was too distracted by “the James Brown wig” that she was wearing.
“If we have a picture of James, it’s the same wig,” joked O’Reilly.
Co-host Ainsley Earhardt jumped in to defend Waters after O’Reilly’s remarks.
“I’ve got to defend her on that. I have to defend her on that,” said Earhardt. “You can’t go after a woman’s looks. I think she’s very attractive.”
“I didn’t say she wasn’t attractive,” responded O’Reilly.
“Her hair is pretty,” countered Earhardt.
“I love James Brown, but it’s the same hair. James Brown — all right, the ‘Godfather of Soul’ — had,” said O’Reilly.
In response to the almost instant backlash over his comments, which many in the African-American community declared racist, O’Reilly quickly issued a public apology to the Democratic senator from California.
“As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs. I said that again today on ‘Fox and Friends,’ calling her ‘old school,’ ” said O’Reilly in a statement.
“Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair, which was dumb. I apologize.”
By Tuesday afternoon, O’Reilly’s comments had become a top trending topic on Twitter.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid tweeted that the Fox News host crossed a “huge, bright, red line.”
“I seem to recall Don Imus being fired for similar commentary about black women; though in that case, not about a *member of congress*,” she wrote in a flurry of tweets. “A man accused of spousal abuse and sexual harassment is attacking a member of congress in crass racial and gender terms on a major network.”
“I love you, Maxine. I want to see you on The Factor,” O’Reilly said on air. “And when hell freezes over, I’m sure that’ll happen.”
When contacted for statement, a representative for O’Reilly said he will have no further comment on the matter.