Bill O'Reilly Is Facing Backlash For His Comments On Slavery
He said the slaves who built the White House were "well-fed and had decent lodging."
That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.
And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.
It was seen as one of the most memorable parts of the speech.
The next day, on his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly responded to the speech saying the slaves who built the White House were "well-fed and had decent lodging."
People were quick to denounce his statement.
And at least one person pointed out that O'Reilly's comments were also incorrect.
An article in The Atlantic notes that Abigail Adams was living in the White House while the slaves were building it, and wrote in a letter that they were "half fed, and destitute of cloathing [sic]."
On his show last night, O'Reilly responded to critics — who he called "smear merchants" — by saying:
"Reporting the story behind Mrs. Obama's very valid points does not diminish the horror of enslavement as these dishonest critics allege.
"As any honest historian knows, in order to keep slaves and free laborers strong, the Washington administration provided meat, bread, and other staples, and also decent lodging on the grounds of the new presidential building.
That is a fact. Not a justification, not a defense of slavery. Just a fact. Anyone who implies a soft-on-slavery message is beneath contempt."