Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is under fire after dismissing a speech by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) with a racially charged jab at the 78-year-old congresswoman’s hairstyle.
“I couldn’t hear a word she was saying,” O’Reilly said during a Wednesday segment of Fox & Friends, after Waters spoke on the House floor about the dangers of President Donald Trump’s policies. “I was looking at the James Brown wig.”
As the male hosts laughed off the remarks, female host Ainsley Earhardt called O’Reilly out for “going after a woman’s looks.” Earhardt said she found Waters “very attractive.”
“I didn’t say she wasn’t attractive,” O’Reilly responded. “I love James Brown, but it’s the same hair.”
The segment immediately drew outrage on social media.The Fox host later apologized for the “dumb” comment.
“As I have said many time, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs,” O’Reilly said in a statement. “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.”
This isn’t the first time Fox has been accused of racially insensitive attacks on Waters. In 2012, host Eric Bolling used Whitney Houston’s death as a cautionary tale to suggest that Waters “step away from the crack pipe.” He later claimed he was “just kidding.”
This post has been updated to include a statement from O’Reilly.