On Monday night, Bill O'Reilly welcomed University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari to his show to discuss Calipari's new book. But what O'Reilly really wanted to talk about were the college basketball parties of O'Reilly's dreams, which include free drugs, "rap stuff," and date rape.
O'Reilly began the interview by baiting Calipari into discussing the "coarsened" culture of college basketball, which Calipari did not care to do. So the interview quickly devolved into O'Reilly stream of consciousness fears about black youth culture. Here's what the Fox News host thinks is going on at Kentucky and other schools. (When he says "they," he's ostensibly referring to Calipari's players, who, he clearly assumes, are black.)
- I don't know if you listen to this rap stuff and hip hop stuff. Has that changed their attitude? I mean, how do you impose discipline on kids who are pretty much gonna do what they want to do?
- Do they use four letter words towards you? [Calipari: No.]
- So they go out with a girl and the girl said, hey you raped me. There is drugs everywhere. They are giving the kids drugs for free. How do you keep them away from that?
- Temptation is strong.
O'Reilly wasn't interested in Calipari's dismissal of his overwrought concerns (Calipari insisted that his players "come from good homes"), because his schtick is and always has been stirring up race-based fears in his audience.
You're going to have to get people like Jay Z, like Kanye West, all of these gangsta rappers, to knock it off. ... You got to get where they live, all right? They had idolized these guys with the hats on backwards ... and the terrible rock — rap lyrics and the drugs and all of that. You got to get these guys. And I think President Obama can do it.
O'Reilly likes to say that "gangsta rappers" are causing "the disintegration of the African-American family," which in turn has caused "violence and chaos in the black precincts." But this is just his fantasy.
For one, "gangsta rap" as a genre hasn't really existed since the 1990s. Kanye and Jay Z, the college boy and the current celebrity Dad of rap, respectively, are not gangsta rappers. And rap music in general doesn't cause anyone to be violent — The Wire's Philip Bump illustrated that overall crime and violent crime actually decreased in America as hip hop became more popular. During a broadcast after the Trayvon Martin killing last year, O'Reilly derided rappers again for contributing to a supposed decline of black culture: "These so-called entertainers get rich while the kids who emulate their lyrics and attitude destroy themselves."
O'Reilly only has to pay attention to the people he's interviewing to realize this isn't true — Calipari point-blank told him that Kentucky players are good kids (who made it to the Championship game). But O'Reilly wasn't talking to Calipari. He was talking to his audience. And for them, O'Reilly doesn't have to cite specific examples of basketball players doing free drugs or date raping women — he just asks questions and lets his audience make any associations.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.