Interviews

O'Reilly Takes on NAACP Over Tea Party 'Racism'

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 9, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: And in the "impact" segment tonight, as we reported last night, the NAACP and three far left Internet websites have joined together to monitor the Tea Party for any racist stuff that might happen.

Now I said that was misguided, because anybody could show up with a stupid sign. There are dirty trick squads from everywhere.

Joining us now from Washington, Hilary Shelton, Director of the NAACP's D.C. bureau.

Now Mr. Shelton, do I have a point on the dirty tricks deal? You know, if they know that you guys are looking for this stuff, they being people who want to discredit the Tea Party or want to cause mischief, they can just show up a sign and then you guys are going to go see, we told you.

HILARY SHELTON, DIRECTOR OF THE NAACP'S WASHINGTON BUREAU: Well, if that did happen, you're absolutely right. However, a good way to think about it is if you go back to what the NAACP has asked of the Tea Party, it's simply for them to repudiate those kind of signs. It doesn't make any difference who's carrying them. So if it's somebody that's actually a legitimate member of the Tea Party, they ask them to stop, that's just fine. If it's somebody that's actually planting that sign, the same thing is true.

The bottom line is, whether they are liberal or conservative, if they're carrying racist signs if you ask them not to, if you repudiate the message that's coming from the signs--

O'REILLY: All right, but let me read you what happened.

SHELTON: --you know exactly what we're asking you to do.

O'REILLY: Let me read you a dispatch. This is April 2010, the National Tea Party Federation. This is a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus, right? It says, "The Tea Party Federation does not and will not tolerate any form of racism, violence or hate speech. In fact, the charter expressly rejects the same. And its membership rules specifically require that each member and its leadership comport themselves accordingly." So you're asking them to do it, and they did it in April. So what's -- why the continuing beef?

SHELTON: Because it continues to happen. And--

O'REILLY: All right, now, give me an example--

SHELTON: They don't want it to happen.

O'REILLY: --from April--

SHELTON: Yes.

O'REILLY: From April to September, give me an example of what you say is racism, what happened. Just give me one very clear example.

SHELTON: Well, the closest thing we've seen so far is we saw a T- shirt at one of the rallies that said some things that are really problematic. So indeed, we're seeing some changes in how they're doing business. Now, in many ways--

O'REILLY: What did the T-shirt say and who was wearing it?

SHELTON: I do not know who the person was. It was a male, seemed to be 40ish perhaps even early 50s.

O'REILLY: Okay, but -- with all due respect--

SHELTON: Yes.

O'REILLY: --because I admire you for coming on this program. You're going to tell me that in a six month period, you found one T-shirt from a guy you don't know that said something offensive, and that is enough to have your organization put its prestige and weight behind a campaign to dig up racism?

SHELTON: Well--

O'REILLY: One T-shirt, come on.

SHELTON: Bill, I appreciate you raising it like this. But don't forget it's part of a full body of evidence. And this was one particular case after they were made aware that everyone was watching.

O'REILLY: But nobody could possibly control that.

SHELTON: Even with that, we saw one T-shirt.

O'REILLY: Nobody could control it. You guys can't in your organization.

SHELTON: As a matter of fact, we do the same -- we have to do the same thing. Repudiation simply means that you have to separate yourself from the message. If the Tea Party wants to continue to move forward, as they should, and very well have every right to do so, they have to make sure they recognize that for some reason some right wing extremist types, some racist types have decided--

O'REILLY: But they've already done that.

SHELTON: (Inaudible) for them to be able to advance their message.

O'REILLY: They're already done that.

SHELTON: And they have to continue to do it.

O'REILLY: All right, so they have to do it every hour on the hour? Every day? Every week? Look--

SHELTON: Just as we do. We have to do it all the time.

O'REILLY: Okay.

SHELTON: We do it consistently.

O'REILLY: But I don't--

SHELTON: We're an organization that works and moves every day.

O'REILLY: I'm seeing a double standard. Here's a double standard. Let me give you. You know, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

SHELTON: I want to hear this.

O'REILLY: Right, you know him?

SHELTON: Yes, indeed.

O'REILLY: Okay, he spoke at an NAACP dinner. He was invited. He spoke. You guys listened to him.

SHELTON: Sure.

O'REILLY: All right now, the Reverend Wright says that the United States government created the HIV virus as a means of genocide against black people. Now, that's hate speech. You invited the guy to the dinner. All right. Explain that in the context of T-shirt for the Tea Party?

SHELTON: Well, let me say, first, that is not hate speech.

O'REILLY: It's not? An unfounded accusation that U.S. government created the AIDS virus to kill black people? Come on.

SHELTON: If he said that indeed that somebody was less than normal, someone was interior, that someone else was superior that somehow someone was less human, that would be hate speech. If he said because of your race or your gender, there's something about you was less than human, that would be hate speech.

O'REILLY: You consider yourself a patriot and loyal American, correct?

SHELTON: Oh, absolutely. Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: Okay. I'm going to challenge you on this, and with all due respect. You invited a man, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who accused your government, your government of creating the HIV virus to kill black people. And you're going sit there and tell me that's not a racist statement? Certainly it is, sir.

SHELTON: It is not a racist statement as problematic as you might find it. Bill, you should look up the definition of the word racist. It might help you understand racism and what it's not.

O'REILLY: He's accusing the government of fabricating a disease, not fabricating.

SHELTON: Yes.

O'REILLY: Not fabricating, wrong word. Creating a disease to kill black people. And you say that's not a racist statement?

SHELTON: It is a racially insensitive statement. Race requires power plus prejudice.

O'REILLY: And you invited this guy to speak at your dinner.

SHELTON: I did not invite him to speak. He spoke--

O'REILLY: The NAACP did.

SHELTON: --NAACP dinners.

O'REILLY: The NAACP did.

SHELTON: Yes, they did. Now let me just say a couple of things. There are people that have concerns of some the things the government has done in the past.

O'REILLY: Concerns?

SHELTON: I think you could point to everything from the Tuskegee experiments to a number of other things.

O'REILLY: Can't do it.

SHELTON: But those times are gone past. Now I have seen no evidence that proves it very well that the U.S. government was involved in any way in advancing the HIV virus.

O'REILLY: All right.

SHELTON: But there are people that believe that.

O'REILLY: It doesn't matter.

SHELTON: I don't agree with it.

O'REILLY: There are people who believe a lot of crazy things.

SHELTON: Sure.

O'REILLY: But what I'm trying to do, Mr. Shelton, and again with all due respect, is saying that you're holding the Tea Party to an impossible standard, while the NAACP has some problems of their own in that area.

SHELTON: How is it impossible to hold the Tea Party to a same standard we hold the NAACP?

O'REILLY: One guy wearing a T-shirt who we don't know doesn't mean anything.

SHELTON: I'm not saying -- I did not say to you we set up teatrackers.org to monitor one T-shirt. What I said is we set up teatrackers.org because we saw a history and a continuing--

O'REILLY: All right. But the history in the last six months--

SHELTON: --a full body of experience across the country from the very beginning until now.

O'REILLY: All right.

SHELTON: And that's why we began doing this.

O'REILLY: All right, Mr. Shelton, we appreciate you coming on the program. And thanks for being a stand-up guy.