Last night, during a segment with Bill O'Reilly on white privilege and Ferguson, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly shocked the internet when she pointed to a lot of evidence that white privilege exists, listing several statistics on racial disparities in unemployment, arrests rates, and experiences with police brutality. By several accounts, O'Reilly got schooled. And yet, in that same segment Kelly alluded to her own history of awarding racial fear mongering air time.
O'Reilly set the bar pretty low on nuanced discussion of black poverty — he argued that since the Asian community is "not a troubled situation" even though they have "language to overcome," it all comes down to "family, culture, personal responsibility," not white privilege. Kelly's surprising argument was a rare change from the typical Fox News monologue.
But this is still the same Megyn Kelly who accused critics of her comments on Santa's inherent whiteness as "race-baiting." At one point, halfway through the discussion, Kelly said that "(Eric Holder's) D.O.J. was actually cited for misconduct in an investigation against cops down in New Orleans... there's a question of whether Holder can be fair to law enforcement."
She was referring to a 2012 case involving two Justice department officials who posted confidential information relating to a police shooting in the comments section of the Times-Picayune. Last week she discussed the same case with J. Christian Adams, the current legal editor of the conservative PJ Media and a former D.O.J. attorney under Holder. Kelly has a long history of discussing the supposed pro-black racial bias of the Justice Department with Adams, who recently wrote a book "exposing the racial agenda of the Obama justice department," according to the book's cover.
As Dave Wiegel, then at The Atlantic, explained in 2010, in 2008 two members of the New Black Panther Party were lurking outside of a polling station. "It was the only recorded incident like this in the nation; nearly two years later, no voter has come forward and said he or she was prevented from voting by the Panthers," Wiegel wrote. "And in his publicity tour to attack the DOJ over the Panther case ... J. Christian Adams has been unable to name any case in which the DOJ was presented with a crime committed by black people and chose not to prosecute it."
Fox News latched on to the idea of anti-semitic members of the N.B.P.P. intimidating white voters across the country. Kelly led that effort with a June 30 interview with Adams, the current legal editor of the conservative PJ Media and a former DOJ attorney under Holder. Kelly discussed the claims 45 times on her show America Live in 2010, more than anyone else on Fox News.
Despite Adams being generally discredited, Kelly had him on her show last week to discuss whether Holder will be fair in Ferguson (spoiler: Adams says no). During the segment, Adams falsely implies that a quote Holder carries in his wallet means he grants special privileges to black criminals. He then says the Department of Justice plans to "go to places like Ferguson and take the side of the lawless against the side of the law abiding citizen." Later Adams, addressing concerns that the Grand Jury prosecutor in Ferguson is biased in favor of the police, said it was another attempt to make everything about race:
This is part of this effort to make everything about race. The entire justice system, they want you to believe, is rigged on the basis of race. It's toxic. It's evil. It's part of a coordinated strategy to undermine the foundations of law in this country, and it's so bad.
That would have been a good time for the woman who schooled Bill O'Reilly on the existence white privilege to show up.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.