Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday apologized after joking that he could not focus on the substance of Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters' criticism of President Donald Trump because he was distracted by her hair.
"As I have said many times, I respect congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs," O'Reilly said in a statement "I said that again today on Fox and Friends calling her 'old school.' Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologize."
The highest-rated cable personality in America cracked the joke during a "Fox and Friends" segment when he was asked to react to the congresswoman's speech about race and Trump on Monday.
He was already amused before the clip began, declaring that Waters "should have her own sitcom."
"I didn't hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig," O'Reilly said, laughing. "If we have a picture of James, it's the same wig."
"Fox and Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade then said that it was "the same one," and reminded viewers that Brown was "not using it anymore" because the iconic soul singer is dead.
Co-host Ainsley Earhardt attempted to defend the appearance of Waters, an African-American congresswoman.
"You can't go after a woman's looks," Earhardt said. "I think she's very attractive."
"I didn't say she wasn't attractive," O'Reilly said. "I love James Brown, but it's the same hair, James Brown — the godfather of soul — had."
"So he had girl hair," Earhart replied.
"Whatever it is, I just couldn't get by it," O'Reilly said.
Waters has emerged as a lightning rod for her early declaration that Trump should be impeached, pointing to the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.
Following criticism, Fox News told Business Insider that O'Reilly would address the comments on his show Tuesday evening.
For his part, O'Reilly has occasionally gotten in hot water for his comments about the appearance of African-Americans in the past.
During an interview with Trump last year, the Fox News anchor asked how the then-Republican frontrunner would help lower unemployment for African-Americans, considering "many" had facial tattoos.
"How are you going to get jobs for them?" O’Reilly asked Trump. "Many of them are ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads, and I hate to be generalized about it, but it's true. If you look at all the educational statistics, how are you going to get jobs for people who aren't qualified for jobs?"
Watch O'Reilly's comments below:
Whoa— Bill O’Reilly says he couldn't hear what Maxine Waters said because he was distracted by her “James Brown wig” pic.twitter.com/sEEG5lJa1l— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 28, 2017
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