Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) condemned Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's "divisive" remarks labeling her a "race hustler" in a statement released Wednesday.
In a March 26 statement, Lee responded to O'Reilly description of her as a "race hustler" and called for an end to the use of such language in the national discourse. Lee was attacked by O'Reilly for her reaction to comments by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that blamed poverty on a "real culture problem" he said persisted "in our inner cities" where men were not "learning the value and the culture of work." Lee took offense to those comments as a "thinly veiled racial attack." She called O'Reilly's comments "disgusting and divisive" and said that they "should never be accepted in our national discourse."
During the March 25 edition of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly attempted to defend the remarks made by Ryan by attacking Lee and accused her of exploiting Ryan's comment for political gain, deeming her a "race hustler" (emphasis added):
O'REILLY: So I understand you had a phone call with Ms. Lee. How did that go?
RYAN: Well, I have known Barbara for many years. Look, there was nothing racial whatsoever in what I said. And if you listen to the full context of all of my remarks, it's pretty clear. So what I would like to do and I mentioned this is, let's get beyond throwing baseless charges at people. Let's not impugn people's motives or characters and let's have a real conversation about what we really need to do [[is]] to truly fight poverty in America. If the status quo was working so well, then we wouldn't have to do that. It's not.
O'REILLY: They don't want a conversation. With all due respect to you because I think you are a good man. They don't want a conversation. They don't want to solve the problem. These race hustlers make a big living, and they get voted into office, by portraying their constituents as victims, and it's all your fault and it's my fault, it's the rich people's fault, it's the Republicans' fault. It's everybody's fault except what's going on. And what's going on, as you know, is the dissolution of the family, and you don't have proper supervision of children, and they grow up with no skills, and they can't read and speak, and they have tattoos on their neck, and they can't compete in the marketplace. And that is what is going on. But if you say that you are a racist. So, no matter what you say congressman, you are going to be branded because the race hustlers don't want to solve the problem, how's that?