Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said Monday that President Obama refuses to work with Republicans because he sees them as “purveyors of white privilege.”
“It's pretty clear that [Obama] doesn't like them because he doesn't feel — he feels that they are the purveyors of white privilege,” O’Reilly said on his show, "The O’Reilly Factor." “He's never going to say that, but that's the theme that runs through his advisers: The white privilege has to be broken down.”
The comments attracted quick criticism on the Internet, with many decrying the remarks as insensitive. The show aired on Martin Luther King Day, and just hours after the country’s first black president was sworn in for his second term.
O’Reilly made the remark in an interview with The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, who shot back saying race had nothing to do with Obama’s perceived coldness toward Republicans in Congress.
“I don’t agree,” Woodward said. “I just think he doesn’t agree with Republicans on their agenda.”
But O’Reilly defended his remark, calling Obama’s views on race “the seed” of a White House agenda aimed at wealth redistribution.
“The Republican agenda, in his mind, the president's mind, props up white privilege,” O’Reilly continued. “Therefore, as the social justice champion, he has to tear that down. He doesn't like the white privilege thing and he doesn't like the Republicans trying to defend it. And that's the seed.”
In 2012, Obama campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthiest earners and was easily elected to a second term. Obama said the policy was to ensure everybody pays his or her fair share, but conservatives have labeled it a redistributive agenda. Still, few high-level conservative personalities have directly tied Obama’s policy choices to his race.