Bill O’Reilly on Mandela: ‘Great man, but he was a communist’

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Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporters 35 Most Powerful People In Media at Four Seasons Grill Room on April 10, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporters 35 Most Powerful People In Media at Four Seasons Grill Room on April 10, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly qualified his praise for South African leader Nelson Mandela in the wake of his death.

In a segment featuring conservative former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the talk show host admitted Mandela was “a great man” but was also quick to label him as a “communist”

“He was a communist, this man. He was a communist, all right? But he was a great man! What he did for his people was stunning!… He was a great man! But he was a communist!” said O’Reilly.

In reality, Mandela was never a member of the Communist party. During the height of apartheid, the ruling white South African government conflated Mandela’s ANC with the communists, banning both, and the late civil rights icon did enjoy close relationships with communists throughout his political career but part of his enduring legacy are his efforts to democratize South Africa, not socialize it.

While Santorum steered clear of the communist label, he did make an awkward comparison between apartheid-era South Africa and the United States today.

He claimed Americans face similar injustice in the form of the “ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is at the front and center of that.”