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CNN’s Rick Sanchez Echoes O’Reilly While Discussing O’Reilly’s Racism

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"CNN’s Rick Sanchez Echoes O’Reilly While Discussing O’Reilly’s Racism"

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On Friday, Media Matters noted that on the Sept. 19 broadcast of his radio show, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly made explicitly racist remarks about his recent dinner at Sylvia’s, a famous African-American-owned restaurant in Harlem. O’Reilly said he was shocked that the restaurant’s service was like that of “any other restaurant…even though it’s run by blacks“:

And I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship. … There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, “M-Fer, I want more iced tea.”

CNN anchor Rick Sanchez spoke with O’Reilly about the incident last night. Sanchez told CNN host Don Lemon that O’Reilly was “screaming the entire conversation.” Sanchez said he told O’Reilly, “I’m a huge fan Bill and I’ve been watching you for years.”

Sanchez then proceeded to sympathize with O’Reilly’s racially-charged gaffes while simultaneously revealing his own ignorance and insensitivity on race issues. Some examples:

Sanchez On O’Reilly’s remarks:

— “At first glance, you don’t see it as questionable. Especially if you’re not an African-American!”

– “Here’s a guy who’s trying to give a compliment.”

– “I agree with him [there was no racist intent].”

– “We all have an uncle who comes to parties at our house…who will occasionally say things like this.”

Sanchez On African-Americans:

– [To Lemon] “People are actually offended. And you would know. They call this a ‘subtle type of racism’… it’s the velvet glove type.”

– “What my African-American friends and associates have told me…is that they were insulted that a man with his experience and his age would for the first time realize that … African-Americans who gather in places in America and have civilized meetings. That’s what they say.”

Watch the segment:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/09/OreillySanchezHarlem.320.240.flv]

Yesterday, too, Sanchez defended O’Reilly, downplaying the severity of O’Reilly’s remarks: “But just how big a deal is this? … What’s wrong with a white guy making social commentary about other people’s race, which is what he seems to be doing here?”

Station WABC interviewed Sylvia’s patrons about O’Reilly’s remarks. Said one customer: “I’m concerned that people are still in that type of mindset.”

UPDATE: Media Matters notes that O’Reilly plans to attack CNN on his show tonight.

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