“There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American,” Winfrey said during an interview with the BBC last week. “There’s no question about that. And it’s the kind of thing no one ever says, but everybody’s thinking it.”
Winfrey is right. Obama is perhaps the most disrespected president in modern history. Winfrey also said GOP Congressman Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” at the president during a congressional address was the height of disrespect – and she was speaking to a world audience.
Winfrey’s remarks came as she was honored by President Obama on Wednesday when he presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
But Winfrey’s high achievement didn’t stop conservative talk show hosts from attacking her for appearing on the BBC. In fact, Winfrey’s comments about Obama and race sent Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly right over the edge.
“But Oprah, if black people in this country are so mistreated and so disrespected, how in the name of Sam Hill did you happen?” Limbaugh, the conservative blowhard, said on his radio talk show. “If there is a level of disrespect simply because he’s black then how, Oprah, have you managed to become the at-one-time most popular and certainly wealthiest television personality?”
Fox television host Bill O’Reilly said President John F. Kennedy was attacked because he was Roman Catholic and was maligned much more than Obama.
“Oprah definitely has a blind spot when it comes to politics,” O’Reilly said. “She, along with some others, uses a racial prism when analyzing public policy. There is no question that President Bush was attacked far more viciously than President Obama has been. But Miss Winfrey has not acknowledged that as far as I know. Both men had controversies — Bush the Iraq war, Obama healthcare.”
O’Reilly said “there will always be bigots” who will hate Obama because he’s black, but believes Obama is not being judged unfairly.
“It is irresponsible of Oprah Winfrey, a woman of influence in this country, to say what she said to the BBC,” he said. “The record shows that Mr. Obama is simply a president who is being criticized for some of his policies.”
But it’s not just about Obama’s policies – it’s about race, too.