MEDIA
08/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

O'Reilly Debates Michael Jackson & Race: 'You Don't Become An African-American Icon By Bleaching Your Face, Having White Kids' (VIDEO)

Last night Bill O'Reilly voiced astonishment at a Pew study showing black Americans to be much more engaged in the coverage of Michael Jackson's death "even though Michael Jackson has white children -- and he chose to have white children -- and the face deal, don't even want to get into."

O'Reilly returned to the issue of Jackson and race tonight during a vigorous debate with Columbia University professor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. O'Reilly criticized Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson Jr. and others for turning this into a "racial deal," saying there is no racial component and that it's foolish for black Americans to exult Jackson as a black icon when he "bleached his face" and had white children: "You don't become an African-American icon when you do something like that."

Hill countered that Jackson was indeed a groundbreaking artist for the black community and took issue with O'Reilly's belief that because he has white children he shouldn't be considered a black American icon: "That's a personal matter. That doesn't make him less black. There's no blackness meter here. You don't become less black when you have a white kid."

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