Reebok and Rapper '50 Cent'

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 15, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment, corporations that continue to reward bad behavior. As you know, we've criticized major companies for paying people who set bad examples for children. The gangster rap world is full of them.

Reebok is one of the big offenders and features rapper 50 Cent (search ) in a new campaign, which just today was pulled off the air in Great Britain. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shot nine times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In stable condition.

50 CENT, RAPPER: Five, six, seven, eight, nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you plan to massacre next?


O'REILLY: I wouldn't buy a sneaker from Reebok if I had to go barefoot over hot coals.

All right. Joining us now is Dennis Kneale, managing editor at "Forbes" magazine, and from Albany, New York, Debra Dickerson, the author of the book "The End of Blackness."

So I just want to tell you in case you don't know, that the Mothers Against Guns (search) in Britain called for a boycott, nationwide boycott in the British Isles of Reebok, because of, you know, basically this guy who glorifies violence in his new album — he's got a gun in every picture, pretty much and you know, you know what he does.

Anyway, Reebok pulled the spots, pulled that spot that you just saw. Now, in America, there's been no protests at all. What does that tell us?

DEBRA DICKERSON, AUTHOR, "THE END OF BLACKNESS": Well, it's a — it's a sad statement. But I hope that's going to be remedied. I hope what's going to happen is what happened with Nelly and the women and men of Spelman College (search) with those kind of protests.

Has there ever been another group of people in the history of the world who depicted themselves this way? I don't understand how you can support this sort of thing and have a problem with racial profiling or "driving while black." I don't understand how those two things can co-exist. You're telling the world we're dangerous, violent people.

If you go to the Web site and you look at the commercial, one of the backdrops is 50 Cent superimposed over the police sheet with his fingerprints. Give me a break.

O'REILLY: Well, this is an ex-drug dealer who's been shot, you know, I guess dozens of times, who revels in this kind of life. He doesn't represent — I want everybody to know this doesn't respect African-Americans in any way.

He's a segment of the population that pushes anti-social behavior and glorification of violence to children.

DICKERSON: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: That's what he does, and Reebok rewards it.

But here in American, we're so numb to it, Mr. Kneale, we're so numb to it that while Great Britain is going nuts, we don't care.

DENNIS KNEALE, MANAGING EDITOR, "FORBES": Yes. Great Britain is going nuts in a country that has hardly any gun violence and maybe we've become too inured to it.

But you know, I really think that it is 50's right to sing what he wants, and it's Reebok's right to hire him to be its spokesman. And then if we, as consumers, don't like it, we cannot buy the shoes. You're not going to buy the shoes.

But you know what? You cannot argue with one thing, and that's commercial success. You know, 50 Cent has a new album out. Four songs are in the top 10. You know the last time that happened?

O'REILLY: Beatles.

KNEALE: 1964. Now he's singing something that means something to kids. And by the way, he's not so much saying "I want to shoot other people." He is saying "I lived. I was shot nine times and I am alive."

O'REILLY: Yes, but the commercial clearly says "who are you going to massacre next?"

KNEALE: But that's an ad copy writer. That's not 50 himself.

O'REILLY: He knew what the copy said. And he revels in this kind of thing. Go ahead — go ahead, Ms. Dickerson.

DICKERSON: Can I jump in there? Can I jump in there to say that when you mention that, you know, he obviously speaks to kids because they're buying his music. We all know that something like 65, 70 percent of this stuff is bought by suburban white teenagers. So this is selling a product and that product is black depravity, and it is white kids who are buying it.

KNEALE: It's not black depravity that he's selling. He's selling about life on the streets. It's tough. Look, Arnold Schwarzenegger...

O'REILLY: You don't think that's depraved, his lifestyle?

KNEALE: Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in some of the most violent films that have ever been made.

O'REILLY: Stop, stop, stop, stop, with the Arnold Schwarzenegger.

KNEALE: And you know, you have no problem with when he wants to endorse something.

DICKERSON: What group is he speaking — is he...

O'REILLY: No, I don't buy that for a second.


DICKERSON: What group is he linked to?

O'REILLY: You don't think that the lifestyle that 50 Cent celebrates is depraved?

KNEALE: You know what? The lifestyle that Schwarzenegger's character celebrates is depraved. 50 Cent...

O'REILLY: Conan the Barbarian?

KNEALE: ... is in character. When he sings these songs, he's singing fiction. He's talking about — he's telling a story, and they've done that down through the ages.

Let me ask you something, both of you. How much money did you give to charity last year? He gave over $1 million. He sold two pairs of his shoes and a million dollars...

DICKERSON: How much damage has he caused?

O'REILLY: All right...


KNEALE: He gave $250,000...

O'REILLY: Hold on, hold on. Go ahead.

KNEALE: ... to the boys' choir. I haven't done that.

O'REILLY: Al Capone (search) and John Gotti (search) gave a lot of money to charity. Go ahead, Ms. Dickerson.

DICKERSON: When I lived in Albany, we got our first ray of sunshine maybe five minutes ago. And the first warm day here, we had a bunch of kids right after school at the inner city ghetto school, right after school lets out, big melee in the middle of the street, these little kids going around, throwing gang signs and stabbing each other. You tell me who they were emulating.

KNEALE: You know what?

DICKERSON: Three kids got stabbed.

KNEALE: We've been doing this for decades in this country. Something like that happens and we blame Elvis Presley (search). Something like that, and we blame the leaders (ph).


KNEALE: Blame the kids and blame their parents. 50 Cent is singing stuff. He's not shooting anybody. He's not robbing anybody. He's making millions of dollars and wants to build wealth for himself.

DICKERSON: Yes, but he is — he is not representative of the people who are struggling to make a life for themselves in the inner city. And what we are telling our kids is here's somebody for you to emulate, rappers and athletes. This is what we believe you can be. And as a rapper — you can't play sports, so OK, you can rap. And you're going to rap about the worst possible things out there.

KNEALE: He's not trying — he's not trying to be a representative for his people. He's trying to put out...

DICKERSON: But he is one.

O'REILLY: He's trying to make money. He's trying to make money.

KNEALE: ... that people want to buy. He's trying to make money.


DICKERSON: ... respect that.

O'REILLY: Well, look, I don't believe you respect that. I just think you're being a contrarian here.

KNEALE: That's what we do.

O'REILLY: I mean, if you respect a guy like 50 Cent, who does sell depravity and does sell anti-establishment and anti-social behavior...

DICKERSON: And anti-women.

O'REILLY: If you respect that because he makes money, then you've got to go home and rethink it.

And let me just tell you one more thing. The tragedy of this from the get go, and everybody knows I feel this way, is it is the unsupervised children, no matter what color they are, who are affected. The children with the good parents may hear this in an ancillary way — of course, I wouldn't let this in my house. I don't believe you would, and I know Ms. Dickerson wouldn't.

DICKERSON: Absolutely not.

O'REILLY: But the kids who are unsupervised, who are grasping for some kind of role model, that are deeply affected by this.

Ms. Dickerson, I give you 20 seconds and I'll give Mr. Kneale 20 seconds to wrap it, go.

DICKERSON: Listen, I — Mr. Kneale, I understand where you're coming from. I really do get it. I mean, if you listen to Bessie Smith (search), the queen of the blues, every other song is about how she had to cut her man and put him in the grave. So people are — and they're wonderful. I listen to that. My kids can listen to that.

But what we're talking about here is a message to hopeless children in the inner city, and more importantly to the white kids in the suburbs who are going to grow up to be cops and judges.

O'REILLY: Five seconds. Go.

KNEALE: We ought to do more stories about the unsupervised kids and fewer stores about people who sing about it.

O'REILLY: All right. 50 Cent booted out of Britain. Don't buy Reebok.

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