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Bill O'Reilly Mocked Maxine Waters' Hair As She Pleaded To Protect Democracy

Maxine Waters. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
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Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represents California's 43rd congressional district, has put in more than 37 years of public service. Earlier in her career, she was an outspoken critic of Apartheid in South Africa. Later, as a newly-minted congresswoman, Waters would help contextualize the Rodney King riots for the public, denouncing the media and the President for characterizing the action as being perpetrated by "hoodlums and thugs."

Along the way, Waters has also co-founded the Black Women’s Forum, spearheaded the Minority AIDS Initiative, and has served as Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, among other achievements in her long career.

All this is to say that, when Waters speaks on the future of democracy, we should probably listen. That wasn't the case on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday, however, when Bill O'Reilly made it apparent that his attention was elsewhere

As noted on The Hill, O'Reilly was shown a clip of Waters speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives. In the footage, Waters said that Trump supporters "turned a blind eye to the destruction" that is imminent. Waters went on to say that African-Americans “fight against this president" and "point out how dangerous he is for this society and for this country." She added, "we’re fighting for the democracy."

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O'Reilly's response was dismissive, to say the absolute least. "I didn't hear a word [Waters] said. I was looking at the James Brown wig. If we have a picture of James, it's the same wig," said O'Reilly. Co-host Brian Kilmeade decided he'd chime in with, "It's the same one," adding that Brown is "not using it anymore" and that "they just, they finally buried him." Brown died in 2006.

Co-host Ainsley Earhardt jumped in and tried to salvage the situation. "You can't go after a woman's looks. I think she's very attractive," said Earhardt.

O'Reilly, however, was intent on digging himself a bigger hole to step into. "I love James Brown, but it's the same hair, James Brown—alright, the 'Godfather of Soul'— had," said O'Reilly. Then he decided to cut her some slack to show what a swell guy he is. "She's a sincere individual. Whatever she says she believes. she's not a phony," said O'Reilly, though the damage had already been done.

People took to social media to call for the firing of O'Reilly. They say that his words were not only blatantly sexist, but also explicitly racist.

After the backlash, O'Reilly issued a written apology for his statements, according to CNN. "As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs," he said. "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."

What's said on television, however, is pretty hard to take back.