Jesse Watters, Bill O’Reilly’s resident ambush reporter, wasn’t about to let some recent claims of Republican racism go unchallenged.
O’Reilly has been on a crusade as of late against the “grievance industry,” which he says is a contingent of easily offended liberals.
So, after two Democratic congressmen spoke recently about racism in the GOP, Watters went to Capitol Hill to confront Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS).
Israel said elements of the Republican base are “animated by racism,” while Thompson called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom” and accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of making a “racist statement” when he vowed to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
O’Reilly aired the interviews on Monday, part of a running segment he calls “Watters’ World,” and it was pretty much par for the course. Watters badgered the lawmakers for declining to appear on the “O’Reilly Factor.”
But things got especially awkward when Watters cornered Israel in a Capitol elevator, demanding answers and pulling off his best “I’m an American taxpayer” shtick.
Watters told Israel that he is one of his constituents.
“Congressman, I pay your salary. Answer the question. You’re a public official,” Watters said.
Israel, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Watters that he had more important matters on his plate. Oh, and can you please stop blocking the door?
“I appreciate that, but you’re holding me up for a vote. If I miss this vote, it’s going to be because you are standing in the way of the elevator,” Israel said.
Still blocking the door, Watters asked if Israel wanted to apologize.
“I’ve said what I’m going to say. You’re literally stopping me from voting, and that’s what my constituents pay me to do,” Israel explained.
“I pay you to do that,” Watters said.
In their post-ambush recap, Watters and O’Reilly both agreed that Thompson came off a lot better than Israel. Indeed, the Mississippi lawmaker remained pretty calm as Watters peppered him with questions. Then again, Thompson wasn’t confronted in an elevator.