From The New York Times:
The food, atmosphere and clientele at Sylvia’s were a matter of nationwide attention yesterday because Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News Channel talk show host, recently described being surprised to find that the black-owned establishment was as pleasant as other restaurants.
“It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun,” Mr. O’Reilly said on his nationally syndicated radio show on Sept. 19. “And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.”
No wonder he was surprised. It wasn’t at all like BillO thought it was going to be:
Original DVD cover.
His comments have outraged some black leaders and baffled black New Yorkers, many of whom said yesterday they were puzzled by what sort of craziness Mr. O’Reilly would expect to find at Sylvia’s, since the Lenox Avenue restaurant is a favorite of Harlem residents, international tourists and former President Bill Clinton.
Black and white customers described Mr. O’Reilly variously as living under a rock, or ignorant of black Americans, or, in the words of one diner, George Hymen, 68, “nutty in the head.”
“The idea that people would be in here acting out, cussing, is kind of archaic,” said Beverly Wilburn, 63, a clothing designer who lives nearby and sat at the counter munching on a sandwich and sipping coffee. “I would laugh if I didn’t think it was sad.”
Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, a Democrat whose district includes Sylvia’s, said Mr. O’Reilly’s comments revealed his ignorance about black culture. “In the year 2007, if he’s surprised that black folks can sit in a restaurant and have cordial conversations, where has he been all these years?” he said.
O’Reilly, host of a popular talk show on Fox News, told a radio audience on his syndicated show last week that he “couldn’t get over the fact” that there was “no difference” between Sylvia’s and any other New York restaurant.
“I mean it’s exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship,” O’Reilly said. Later he added, “There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea.’
The real question, however, is whether or not O’Reilly will overcome the backlash that has followed or if he will fall by the same wayside as Don Imus and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, other broadcasters who made disparaging comments on air and ultimately had to resign.
“It’s hard to say,” said Larry Smith, the president for the Institute of Crisis Management, a consulting firm. “Certainly, if a presidential candidate or a CEO said something like this they would be beyond burnt toast.”
Smith expressed dismay when told that O’Reilly had Sharpton on the show Wednesday night and was scheduled to have [Jesse] Jackson on tonight.
“It sounds like they are trying to milk it for ratings,” he said. “It makes it hard to feel sorry for him.”
At Sylvia’s though, the focus was still on the food.
“It’s an expected comment from someone like that,” shrugged Cortney Daniels, 27, on her way in for a plate of black-eyed peas. “You can’t change the way people think.”
Oh, Deities of Irony, how you make me giggle! The stereotypes flow out of BillO, the stereotypical hypocritical freeper talking head!