Fox News host Bill O’Reilly argued to PBS counterpart Tavis Smiley on Thursday that Republicans are less apathetic regarding Black voters than they are afraid of them.
“I think they’re more intimidated than uncaring,” O’Reilly said.
“Intimidated by what?” Smiley asked skeptically. “Are Black folks scary?”
“No, no. The white Republican power structure is afraid of Black Americans,” O’Reilly responded. “They don’t know how to treat them, how to speak to them, they don’t know anything about the culture, and they don’t want to be called a racist bigot, so they stay away.”
“But why does that make you scared, as opposed to being interested in understanding, embracing,” Smiley began to ask before O’Reilly interjected, saying GOP leaders did not feel that kind of effort was “worth the trouble,” since they would likely only draw a few voters.
Smiley said that, while Republicans have been “apathetic” toward the African-American community, Democrats have continued to take it for granted, leading Black voters to realize that no one party is looking out for their best interests.
“The reality is that neither party is truly interested, I believe, in the economic opportunity and social mobility of African-American voters,” he told O’Reilly.
The two later clashed, however, when O’Reilly revisited his argument that “white privilege” is not to blame for African-Americans’ struggles to get ahead. Instead, the Factor host again argued that the “disintegration” of the Black family is the key issue.
“There are more white folk in poverty in this country than there are African-Americans,” Smiley countered. “The new poor in this country are the former middle class.”
Smiley cited Census Bureau statistics saying that one out of every two Americans is either in or close to poverty.
“That ain’t a Black or brown problem,” he said. “That’s an American catastrophe.”
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Thursday, below.