On the October 3 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, while interviewing right-wing pundit Ann Coulter about her new book, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans (Crown Forum), host Joe Scarborough asked Coulter if she thought that Bill O'Reilly was unfairly attacked for his recent comments regarding a trip to Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem. Scarborough noted that he and his co-anchors agreed that O'Reilly "seemed shocked that black people can run restaurants like white people." Coulter responded: "[H]e made an obvious statement, he does that sometimes. But saying that he went to a black restaurant with black people and had a nice time and everyone was nice to him, no I don't think that's a racist statement. It's an obvious statement." Scarborough responded that O'Reilly "just seemed a little shocked, to us, he seemed shocked." Coulter then asserted: "I think the surprise part was inserted by people interpreting it."
But, as Media Matters for America documented, on the September 19 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, O'Reilly said of his visit to Sylvia's: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same, and that's really what this society's all about now here in the U.S.A. There's no difference. There's no difference" [emphasis added].
From the October 3 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, let's bring in Ann Coulter now, she's written a new book, she's a bestselling -- all of her books go to number one. She's written a new book called If Democrats Had Any Brains They'd Be Republicans. Ann, I think my next book should be "If Republicans had any brains they'd still be in charge of Congress," but they don't, at least not that I've seen. Let me start by asking you first about what everyone's talking about, and that is Rush Limbaugh. Apparently people are very concerned about this "phony soldiers" remark. What's your take on it?
COULTER: Um, I'm a little disappointed they didn't wait for my book to come out to engage in one of these campaigns. They could've taken me out of context.
SCARBOROUGH : Yeah, I know, exactly, that's the thing. I'm sure Rush Limbaugh is just horrified that [Sen.] Tom Harkin [D-IA] is on the United States Senate floor, and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid's [D-NV] on the United States Senate floor attacking him, it's like, "Please, please throw me in that briar patch."
COULTER: In my experience, being censured on the Senate floor is the equivalent of about 50 book signings.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, exactly. Now last week, we were going after -- by the way, our collective judgment here is that Rush Limbaugh's been taken out of context. Last week we were talking about Bill O'Reilly, who, to us, to us at least, seemed shocked that black people can run restaurants like white people. Do you think Bill O'Reilly was unfairly attacked last week?
COULTER: Um, oh, this is so hard for me because there is no way he would defend me if the shoe were on the other foot. But no, I mean, he made an obvious statement, he does that sometimes. But saying that he went to a black restaurant with black people and had a nice time and everyone was nice to him, no I don't think that's a racist statement. It's an obvious statement.
SCARBOROUGH: But he just seemed a little shocked, to us, he seemed shocked.
COULTER: No, I think the surprise part was inserted by people interpreting it.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (anchor): Well you could kind of hear it, I'm sorry.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, it seemed that way.