Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was forced to concede on Thursday that correspondent Jesse Watters made some errors in a piece focusing on the Muslim community in Dearborn, Michigan. At the same time, however, he insisted that Watters meant no harm.
“Wouldn’t you say that it was satire, and pretty much good-natured satire?” O’Reilly asked guest Dawud Walid.
“I don’t think it really was satire,” said Walid, the executive director for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “Especially when you have people making comments about ‘honor killings,’ and you go on your Facebook page, Bill — and it’s not your fault. But because of that story, people are talking about ‘Bomb Dearborn.'”
Both Walid and Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly — no relation to the Factor host — criticized Watters’ segment on Wednesday in which he asked Muslim residents questions such as “Do you like Christmas?” and “Which way is Mecca?”
The segment also featured a local man calling the city’s Muslim community “bad” and describing it as unfriendly, as well as an allegation that there was an “honor killing” in Dearborn last year.
As Walid said on the show, several commenters on the Fox host’s Facebook page left anti-Islamic comments after it aired, including “Deport all of the towel heads” and “Muslim men, women and children should be put to death.” O’Reilly dismissed these comments as coming from “nuts.”
Walid also pointed out that the “honor killing” allegation was false, as was one remark in the segment about a “condom killing.”
“At the end of the day, the Dearborn community is systematically miscategorized,” he said. “We’ve all types of nuts that come into Dearborn, and these types of depictions just give nuts more fuel to come into Dearborn based on false stereotypes.”
O’Reilly then compared the Dearborn segment to one aired last week featuring Catholics.
“People understand that this is done in a satirical way,” he argued. “That’s why you’re overreacting. However, your points about ‘honor killings’ and stonings and things like that, that’s my fault as an editor. I should have said, ‘You know what? You can’t back this up — and believe me, I’m glad you contacted us ’cause it won’t happen again — that there is any accusation of violence or something like that, we’ll check it out. If it doesn’t check, we’ll cut it. But overall, it was a gentle piece, and you know it was gentle.”
Watch the interview, as aired on Thursday, below.