Later he said, "I'm not in the business of hurting Jesse Jackson -- because it does hurt Jesse Jackson -- and I'm not in the business of creating some kind of controversy that's not relevant to the general subject: one civil rights leader disparaging another over policy. So we held it back. Some weasel leaked it to the Internet."
Some readers might consider Jackson's remarks off-limits as they represented pre-show chitchat not intended for public consumption. But Jackson is hardly the first public figure to get caught in this snare. He knew he had a microphone on his lapel, that people might hear him, and that what he was saying was in poor taste.
He simply could not help himself.
Granted, whether it should be or not, it is different when a black person, as opposed to a white person, uses the two-syllable n-word.
But when a civil rights leader disparages the very people whom he is supposed to champion -- that's news. And when the black person who uses the n-word word is a civil rights leader who challenged the entertainment industry not to use the word and called for a boycott of "Seinfeld" DVDs after one of the series' stars, Michael Richards, used the slur as a standup comic -- that's big news.
It is news that buries whatever credibility Jackson retained.
Which makes O'Reilly's decision not to broadcast the racist n-word incomprehensible. O'Reilly was giving a pass to Jackson -- something he would not do for an 18-year-old girl who posted a sexual photo on the Internet.
And for that, he should squirm in his seat.