Between August 13 and September 13, MSNBC's PoliticsNation
host Al Sharpton has been so obsessed with FNC host Bill O'Reilly's
criticism of food stamp abuse, the MSNBC host has on seven separate
occasions played a clip of O'Reilly complaining that some food stamp
recipients are "parasites" who abuse the system.
But Sharpton has repeatedly portrayed O'Reilly's comment as a general attack on the poor, as his PoliticsNation program seven times has played the same clip -- or a shorter version -- of the FNC host. O'Reilly, from the Monday, August 12, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC: "My contention is that the Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can with no remorse. And this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak nation."
As previously documented by the MRC, Sharpton slammed O'Reilly on his August 13 PoliticsNation
show without clarifying that when the FNC host used the word
"parasites," he was referring to a California beach bum featured on an
FNC special who seemed disinterested in getting off welfare.
After accusing the The O'Reilly Factor host of "attacking the poor" and then playing the O'Reilly clip without context, Sharpton griped: "Parasites. The poor are parasites. We've heard these kinds of attacks before: welfare queen, the 47 percent, makers versus takers. Fox News is peddling this garbage in a new one-hour documentary called the Great Food Stamp Binge, featuring some of the right's favorite myths about the poor."
Sharpton played clips from the FNC special, but did not include the beach bum clips.
A few days later, on Friday, August 16, Sharpton responded to O'Reilly's criticism of the MSNBC host's distortion by replaying a portion of the clip with a couple of other O'Reilly clips. Sharpton then complained: "Bill is playing to the extremists in his audience, and it shows. It shows what is wrong with the right wing today. They can't disagree without being disagreeable. They have to make personal attacks on anyone who has a different point of view, and it's not just me, it's true of everyone, from Sandra Fluke to President Obama. That needs to change."
On Monday, August 19, addressing liberal talk radio host Joe Madison as a guest, Sharpton brought up the "parasites" comment again: "Joe, this last battle between me, if you want to call it that, and Bill O'Reilly was last week he slammed food stamp recipients as parasites. Let me show you what he said."
After playing the O'Reilly comment, Sharpton added:
I disagreed with the allegation of parasites, I disagreed with a lot of what was said on the food stamp stuff. And his retort is that he once donated money to help us of what we do, which you know we feed the poor and children every Christmas.
I don't know what writing a check years ago does to justify you calling people parasites but in his world that's logical. But isn't this really the point, that rather than answer the questions, why you call people parasites, where is all of this, you go off and attack someone that would dare raise a question as to why you're calling people in need these names?
On August 27, Sharpton began the show by again complaining about Republicans trying to cut welfare programs as he tied in O'Reilly. Sharpton: "Tonight's lead, hot list GOP conservatives are reaching deep into their bag of insults to attack Americans who are hurting and to justify what's increasingly become a Republican party hostile to those in need. On Fox News, Bill O'Reilly can't wait to give you his expertise on poor people."
After a few clips of O'Reilly, including the "parasites" comment, the MSNBC host responded: "So if you need food stamps, you're a parasite. That wasn't exactly his language when he supported billions of dollars to bail out bankers in need. But this is the heartless talk we keep hearing from the right and Bill O'Reilly is hardly alone."
On September 5, as he addressed MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor, Sharpton played the O'Reilly "parasites" clip again with a few other clips from right-leaning hosts. Sharpton: "And it gives misinformation, because, Goldie, the pundits, the right wing pundits are constantly attacking people who rely on food stamps. Look at this."
On September 6, as he addressed NBC Latino Contributor Victoria Soto, Sharpton again used the O'Reilly comment. Sharpton: "Now, the right also demonizes those who need vital programs like food stamps, make them look like they are less than what they really are, and that's people in need. Watch this."
After clips of O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity ran, the MSNBC host again suggested O'Reilly was calling all food stamp recipients "parasites": "And the people that are on food stamps, many of them do have a job. But why aside from the fact that I need help because I can't make ends meet, because there are layoffs, because minimum wage, I have got to be a parasite on top of that, Victoria?"
And on Friday, September 13, as he addressed LeHigh University Professor Barry Peterson, Sharpton posed: "And Dr. (James) Peterson, right wingers are constantly attacking the poor. Listen to this."
Then came a clip of Limbaugh, followed by the "parasites" comment from
O'Reilly, making the seventh time so far that the clip has aired on
Sharpton's PoliticsNation show.
-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.