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."