Fox News host Bill O’Reilly blasted what he called “smear merchants” who he said misrepresented his position on slavery.
The “O’Reilly Factor” host drew criticism Tuesday night when he argued on his show that the slaves who helped build the White House “were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.”
The comments came in response to Michelle Obama’s well-received speech earlier this week at the Democratic National Convention.
In her speech, Obama noted the significance of a black family living in the White House, saying “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.”
But on his show Wednesday, O’Reilly said his comments were “100 per cent accurate, providing context to Mrs. Obama’s remarks,” and that they were “not a justification, not a defence of slavery. Just a fact.”
“For doing that, I was immediately attacked by smear merchants,” he said, specifically calling out the New York Daily News and USA Today for portraying O’Reilly as having defended slavery, or at least the working conditions of slaves.
Historical documents suggest O’Reilly may be off-base. The Atlantic quotes Abigail Adams as describing slaves building the White House as “half fed, and destitute of clothing.”
And The Washington Post said it is “unaware of any record or documents … that details the way in which anyone involved in the hard labour of construction was fed or housed.”
Watch O’Reilly’s comments below:
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