Fox News host Bill O’Reilly wondered Tuesday if President Barack Obama was going appeal to African Americans by making an appearance on Soul Train, a musical variety show that hasn’t been on the air since early 2006.
“There’s an outreach by the Obama administration to African Americans,” O’Reilly told Columbia professor Marc Lamont Hill. “What does that entail? Are they going to be on Soul Train?”
“Soul Train!” Hill exclaimed. “You know you are going to be Media Matters for that one right now.”
“Soul Train is a popular vehicle,” O’Reilly insisted. “Is Soul Train still on? Alright, I must be watching the reruns because I really like it.”
In reality, the Obama administration is getting their message out by speaking to black communities about the president’s accomplishments. They have summarized the president’s agenda in a 44-page report on the White House website, and are targeting black lawmakers and staff with an electronic newsletter.
The Obama 2012 campaign is also launching an aggressive grass-roots effort to energize black voters.
“But that won’t matter this year because Republicans are blocking the votes by asking for IDs at the polling place,” O’Reilly noted, snickering. “You have to have an ID to buy some wine. What is that? Beverage suppression?”
“It’s not just voter suppression,” Hill noted. “It’s spreading misinformation about whether felons can vote.”
“Felons can’t vote in many states,” O’Reilly asserted.
“That’s actually very untrue,” Hill replied. “That type of misinformation is what keeps poor people out, it’s what keeps black and brown people out, and Republicans tend to win by the margins.”
“Are you saying most felons are black and brown?” O’Reilly asked sarcastically. “That’s outrageous. Hello, Media Matters, did you just hear that?”
“Most people who are incarcerated are black and brown. That’s a fact,” Hill pointed out.
It’s not the first time O’Reilly has spouted off misperceptions about the African American community. In 2007, he said that he “couldn’t get over the fact” that Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem was “exactly the same” as any other restaurant.
“There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M.F.-er, I want more iced tea,’” the Fox News host later told then-National Public Radio correspondent Juan Williams.
Watch this video from Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, broadcast Dec. 6, 2011.