Bill O'Reilly Begs Barack Obama to Save “Futures of Babies and Children”

What Women Really Think
Feb. 4 2014 11:51 AM

Bill O'Reilly Begs Barack Obama to Save “Futures of Babies and Children”

The second half of Bill O'Reilly's much-hyped interruption-a-thon disguised as an interview with President Obama aired Monday night. The first part, which coasted on Super Bowl traffic, mainly featured O'Reilly flinging a bunch of conspiracy theories at Obama, but the second half focused on an issue of great importance to O'Reilly personally: How black women are not conducting their sex lives in precisely the way that O'Reilly thinks they should. And he wants to know what Obama is going to do about it.

Bill O'Reilly: All right. But 72 percent of babies in the African-American community are born out of wedlock.
President Barack Obama: Yeah.
O'Reilly: Why isn’t there a campaign by you and the first lady to address that problem very explicitly?
Obama: Actually, Bill, we address it explicitly all the time. I—I’ll send you at least 10 speeches I’ve made since I’ve been president talking about the importance of men taking responsibility for their children. Talking about the importance of, uh, young people, uh, delaying gratification. Talking about the importance of, uh, when it comes to child rearing, paying child support, spending time with your kids, reading with them. So, whether it’s getting publicity or not is a whole different question.
O'Reilly: But—
Obama: This is something that we focus on all the time.
O'Reilly: Would you say it’s been a hallmark of your administration to make that issue, because I don’t believe it has. I know you’ve given the speeches, and I know you know—understand the problem, because you’re a community organizer from Chicago.
Obama: Yes.
O'Reilly: All right? But I don’t see the pressure from the federal government to go in and say, this is wrong, this is—this is killing, um, futures of babies and children.
Obama: Well, first of all, I’ve just got to say, Bill, we talk about it all the time. We’ll continue to talk about it. We’re convening, for example, philanthropists and business people, city by city, who are interested in addressing these kinds of problems at the local level. There is an economic component to it as well, though.
O'Reilly: Sure.
Obama: Because—because what’s interesting, when you look at what’s going on right now, you’re starting to see in a lot of white working-class homes, similar problems—when men can’t find good work, when the economy is shutting ladders of opportunity off from people, whether they’re black, white, Hispanic, it doesn’t matter. Then that puts pressure as well on the home. So you’ve got an interaction between the economy that isn’t generating enough good jobs for folks who traditionally could get blue-collar jobs even if they didn’t have a higher education, and some legitimate social concerns, uh. That compound the problem and so we want to hit both. We want to make sure that we’re putting folks back to work and making sure that they’re well-paid—

Upon realizing the president was going to say the forbidden—that lack of jobs and not lack of wedding rings is the issue here—O'Reilly hastily changed the subject.

Obsessing over whether women have their paperwork in order before they choose to reproduce is what conservatives do when they don’t want to think about more realistic and effective ways to solve income inequality in this country. The theory that a marriage license is a magic shield that prevents poverty is so beloved because it weds together two conservative obsessions—micromanaging what women do in bed and blaming poor people's supposed moral inferiorit—instead of more obvious causes—such as a lack of jobs—for their economic hardships. The problem is that many experts don't think that marriage is a panacea and tend to cite the lack of decent economic opportunities as the real problem bedeviling poor people. Which was what Obama was getting at when O'Reilly moved on. 

What really made this moment shine was O'Reilly's certainty that the problem here is an insufficient amount of presidential scolding. The "wait until you're married" lecture has been consistently delivered to black women for more than 50 years now, but let's give it another 50, shall we? Maybe Obama isn't phrasing it right? Maybe if he said, “You are bad,” as opposed to, “Men should take responsibility for their children,” everything would click? Or maybe he just needs to yell a little louder; that always makes things sound truer and more persuasive on The O'Reilly Factor. Plus it distracts from the divorced—as in, single—host's own moral indiscretions

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Sept. 29 2014 10:00 PM “Everything Must Change in Italy” An interview with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 29 2014 1:52 PM Do Not Fear California’s New Affirmative Consent Law
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 29 2014 12:01 PM This Is Your MOM’s Mars
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.