Both men made comments Tuesday that struck many observers as being disrespectful of two prominent and successful black women. And those comments sparked a viral social media reaction.
In O'Reilly's case, he said he couldn't focus on a word that Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said in a clip shown on Fox & Friends because he was looking at her "James Brown wig."
O'Reilly later apologized, saying it was a "dumb" joke and that he respected Waters "for being sincere in her beliefs."
Spicer took issue with the questions being asked by American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan during a news conference at the White House. Spicer accused Ryan of having a biased agenda and at one point told her "stop shaking your head."
The treatment of Waters and Ryan was familiar for many black women in the U.S. who've personally experienced being dismissed, disrespected and marginalized — whether subtly or with outright racism — in professional situations.
Some of these women spoke out on Twitter Tuesday, sharing their own experiences as well as their anger at O'Reilly and Spicer under the hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork.
Bill O’Reilly Mocks Maxine Waters’ Hair While She’s Busy Tackling Trump
Everyone knows Bill O’Reilly is the absolute worst, but his latest antics are just appalling.
During a segment of “Fox & Friends,” the show played a clip of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Ca.) speaking out against the discriminatory and bigoted practices of President Donald Trump’s supporters. When asked to give his response, O’Reilly killed two birds with one stone and made a comment that was both racist and sexist.
“I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig,” he said. “Do we have a picture of James Brown? It’s the same wig.”
Co-host Brian Kilmeade laughed and made a tasteless joke about the musician, who died in 2006. “He’s not using it anymore,” he said. “They just ― they finally buried him.”
Ainsley Earhardt, another co-host, defended Waters. “You can’t go after a woman’s looks,” she said. “I think she’s very attractive.”
O’Reilly responded: “I didn’t say she wasn’t attractive. I love James Brown but it’s the same hair James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, had ... whatever it is, I just couldn’t get by it.”
Waters has yet to respond to the Fox host’s comments. But that’s probably because she’s too busy delivering the keynote address at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference, leading Democrats in the crusade against Trump and being an all-around boss to even give a damn.
This isn’t a first for Fox News. Media Matters shared an old clip on Twitter of a segment called “’Gangstas’ and ‘Demons.’” In the video, a pundit accuses Waters of doing drugs.
“You saw what happened to Whitney Houston,” he said. “Step away from the crack pipe, step away from the Xanax, step away from the lorazepam because it’s gonna get you in trouble.”
This isn’t even a first for O’Reilly. In 2007, the Fox host said he was surprised that a famous Harlem restaurant was the same as other New York City eateries “even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship.” In 2016, he blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for rising murder rates in some cities. Before the election, he said that Hillary Clinton would have a better opportunity at appealing to voters of color if she brought out The O’Jays during a rally.
Hear O’Reilly’s comments in the video above.
UPDATE: 2:35 p.m. ― Bill O’Reilly apologized for his comments about Rep. Maxine Waters’ hair in a statement sent to The Huffington Post on Tuesday.
“As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs,” the statement read. “I said that again today on ‘Fox & Friends’ calling her ‘old school.’ Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologize.”
A Fox News spokesperson told CNN reporter Tom Kludt that O’Reilly will address his remarks on his show on Tuesday night.
‘I am a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated’: Maxine Waters slams O’Reilly
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) lit into Bill O’Reilly and other “right-wing talking heads” that she said were trying to intimidate black women and others. She made the comments Tuesday on MSNBC to Chris Hayes, in apparent reference to a mocking joke O’Reilly made earlier in the day.
“And let me just say this,” Waters declared. “I am a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated, I cannot be undermined, I cannot be thought to be a friend of Bill O’Reilly or anybody.”
“And I’d like to say to women out there everywhere,” she continued, “don’t allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you. Be who you are, do what you do, and let us on with discussing the real issues of this country. “
“Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes have no credibility,” she added. “They have been sued by women. They’ve had to pay millions of dollars out in fines for harassment and other kinds of things. And so we know about that checkered past.”
“And we also know that when a woman stands up and speaks truth to power,” she concluded, “that there will be attempts to put her down. And so I’m not going to be put down. I’m not going to go anywhere, I’m going to stay on the issues.”
Bill O’Reilly had made the joke about Waters’ hair while appearing on “Fox and Friends,” for which he later apologized. Many characterized it as a racist attack, something he did not address in his apology, which simply said it was a “dumb” jest.
The “dumb” jest in question was made at the expense of her hair after Fox aired a clip of Waters speaking about discrimination. When asked to comment about it, O’Reilly answered, “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.” While the two male hosts laughed, Ainsley Earhardt objected to O’Reilly joking about a “woman’s looks.”
“As I have said many times,’ O’Reilly later said in a statement. “I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs. I said that today on ‘Fox and Friends’ calling her ‘old school.’ Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair, which was dumb. I apologize.”
Waters has been a very vocal critic of the Trump administration, which she said was full of “scumbags” in February. She also predicted that the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia would eventually lead to his impeachment.