Beyoncé Knowles-Carter doesn’t deserve to be named one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people, according to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, because her new album is promoting sex before marriage within the black community.
O’Reilly, who has been particularly concerned about Beyoncé’s “raunchy” new album since the music video for her song “Partition” was released, disapproves of TIME’s decision to put the singer on the cover of its annual “100 Most Influential People” issue. On his show on Friday, O’Reilly suggested that Beyoncé isn’t helping to address the “cultural deficits” in African American and poor white communities and is actually “part of the problem.”
“She knows — this woman knows — that young girls are getting pregnant in the African American community,” the talk show host said. “Now it’s about 70 percent out of wedlock. She knows and doesn’t seem to care.”
“She should be smart enough to know that what’s she doing now is harming some children,” O’Reilly added, after showing a clip of the singer’s “Drunk In Love” video.
But if O’Reilly is concerned about unintended pregnancies among teen girls, Beyoncé is a strange target. The 32-year-old singer has been in a relationship with her husband, rapper Jay Z, for more than a decade. They had their first child together not out of wedlock, but after they had been married for several years. “Drunk In Love” is specifically about their monogamous relationship; in fact, her so-called “raunchy” album is largely entirely about the fact that marriage can be fun, and sensual, and desirable.
The two are arguably pop culture’s most famous married couple, and effective cultural icons to further conservatives’ argument that matrimony should be the end goal for America’s youth. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that they simply don’t look like the right-wing’s idea of who their spokespeople should be. O’Reilly has accused Jay Z of using his “gangsta” image to impart negative messages to young men of color, encouraging them to sell drugs and glorify violence, and during the segment on Friday, he claimed that Beyoncé’s own sexual morals don’t count when she’s singing about sex in her songs and wearing revealing clothing in her videos.
Although O’Reilly frequently laments the teen pregnancy crisis, he typically doesn’t mention the significant progress in this area over the past several decades. The pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates for U.S. teens have all recently hit record lows. That’s true for the black community, too. Between 1999 and 2009, unplanned pregnancies among African American teens declined by 51 percent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this progress is due to the fact that more kids are making responsible sexual decisions, and are choosing to delay sex and use birth control.
There’s certainly more work to be done in this policy area. But federal researchers attribute the current teen birth rate not to pop stars’ lyrics, but to the fact that most teens don’t receive any sex education until after they’ve already started having sex.