Bill O’Reilly defended his remarks about the treatment of the slaves who helped build the White House on Wednesday, saying his statement about them being “well-fed” with “decent lodgings” was grounded in fact and held no justification for slavery.
The Fox News host came under fire earlier this week after he commented on Michelle Obama’s powerful Democratic National Convention speech in which she addressed waking up “every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” On Tuesday, O’Reilly, a prolific historian, provided context for the remarks.
“Slaves did participate in the construction of the White House,” he said. “Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802.”
He was soundly slammed by critics he labeled “far-left loons” and “smear merchants” before taking to his show to reiterate the point that “any honest historian” knows slaves were kept “strong.”
“In order to keep slaves and free laborers strong, the Washington administration provided meat, bread and other staples, also decent lodging on the grounds of the new presidential building,” he said. “That is a fact. Not a justification, not a defense of slavery. Anyone who implies otherwise is beneath contempt ... Reporting the story behind Mrs. Obama’s very valid points does not diminish the horror of enslavement as these dishonest critics allege.”
The White House Historical Association has said slaves did in fact help build the White House. But The New York Times notes “there’s no historical evidence either way on the question of how well fed the slaves were.”
Social media once again erupted, claiming O’Reilly’s comment’s detracted from the horrors of slavery.
Take a look at the entire clip above.