Bill O'Reilly is apparently now passing himself off as a populist. On his Fox News show Tuesday night, he waded into the made-up controversy over hip-hop mogul Sean Combs' son, Justin Combs, arguing that Justin should not have accepted a full athletic scholarship to play football for the University of California because his father is amazingly wealthy -- and also he is an Obama supporter.
First off, let's all remember that athletic scholarships are based on merit, not financial hardship. Second, it seems odd -- well, in O'Reilly's case, not so odd -- that Justin is being singled out when there are scores of student-athletes from wealthy, and famous, families who have similarly accepted merit-based scholarships. Indeed, why has there been no similar outrage over Trey Griffey, the son of baseball great Ken Griffey, Jr., who is headed to Arizona this year on a full ride?
Or better yet, as others have pointed out, the much bigger controversy should be why it costs $54,000 to attend a state university. But that's not a topic O'Reilly cared to touch.
While O'Reilly acknowledged during the segment that UCLA's athletic scholarships are not funded by the state's taxpayers but come from private donations and school ticket sales and that Justin "earned his scholarship," O'Reilly went on to claim that "with all the class warfare in play and Mr. Combs being a big liberal guy, the situation does raise some questions."
O'REILLY: I applaud Justin Combs, number one. I mean, the kid is smart, the kid is a good athlete, the kid's stayed out of trouble -- he could be a crazy guy like so many celebrity daughters and sons are. He's not. So we gotta give him all the credit in the world.
However, his father, Diddy -- all right, once the scholarship is granted, once it was granted, and it goes in the records that the kid earned it -- should've said, you know what, we're not gonna take it. We're gonna give it to another kid, because there only are a certain amount of scholarships, even though they're corporate paid, they are limited, so they should've stepped back, paid their own way and let another kid have the scholarship.
O'Reilly went on to make his point by accusing Sean Combs of "class warfare," saying that "Diddy is one of the big class warfare guys," adding, "He's a big Obama guy." When guest Alan Colmes challenged O'Reilly by asking, "Why is he a big class warfare guy? Just 'cause he's into Obama, he's class warfare? That makes him class warfare? Just because he likes Obama?" O'Reilly replied:
O'REILLY: Yeah. Oh, yeah. He's down, as they say in the 'hood, with all of the income redistribution. OK, so let's redistribute it, Diddy. You pay and let some other kid have the scholarship.
His comments about "the 'hood" notwithstanding, this is rather rich coming from O'Reilly. The Fox host has repeatedly opposed proposals to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, accusing Obama of "trying to demonize Americans like me who have made money the old-fashioned way, we've earned it." O'Reilly by the way never mentions that millionaire and billionaire incomes are higher than they've ever been while their taxes are the lowest they've been in more than 70 years.
So in the end, according to O'Reilly, a wealthy Obama supporter should "set a great example" so that "another kid [can] get a scholarship to UCLA because the Diddy kid doesn't need it," but requiring wealthy Americans to pay more in taxes is to "demonize" hard work. Now who's playing class warfare?