Clown Bill O’Reilly once came for Ludacris for ‘degrading’ women in his music – let that sink in
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is currently on the struggle bus.
The awful sexual misconduct allegations against him have led to some pretty unflattering headlines and left sponsors fleeing his show.
The self-appointed paragon of “old school” values is being branded a hypocrite and a sleaze — and that is likely not lost on one person: hip hop star Ludacris.
Fifteen years ago, O’Reilly launched a racially-tinged jihad against the rapper, who was appearing in an ad campaign for Pepsi at the time.
O’Reilly broadly condemned a then 24-year-old Ludacris as a “thug rapper” and “a man who degrades women” while cherry-picking misogynistic lyrics from his songs to accuse him of “peddling antisocial behavior.”
The right has a long history of going after hip hop for asinine reasons — most infamously Vice President Dan Quayle’s public crusade against anti-police lyrics in the early 90s — but O’Reilly’s invective was more personal, and his aim was deliberately at the rapper’s bottom line.
The then 51-year-old called for a boycott of Pepsi on air, and the soda giant balked.
“We have a responsibility to listen to our customers,” the company said in a statement, which completely ignored the fact that some of their consumers were hip hop fans.
Pepsi canceled their campaign with Ludacris the next day, a 180 that O’Reilly boasted about on an August, 2002, broadcast:
Americans should let the merchants of bad taste know that hiring corrupters and incompetents is not acceptable. Let the companies know how you feel. Capitalism swings both ways.
Ludacris would lash back out at O’Reilly — in song.
“Shout out to Bill O’Reilly,” he rapped on “Blow It Out” from his 2003 album “Chicken-n-Beer.” “Imma throw you a curve. You mad cause I’m a thief and got a way with words.”
“Imma start my own beverage,” he added. “It’ll calm your nerves, Pepsi’s the new generation — blow it out ya ass!”
On the same album, O’Reilly became the punchline to the tongue-in-cheek song “Hoes in My Room,” featuring Snoop Dogg.
And in the ensuing years, O’Reilly became a familiar and popular punching bag for hip hop lyricists — not just because of his feud with Ludacris but his years of self-righteous high horse attacks on rap music.
In 2004, when allegations of sexual harassment against O’Reilly first surfaced, Ludacris made hay of it, rapping on his song “Number One Spot”:
Respected highly, ‘Hi, Mr. O’Reilly!’ Hope all is well, kiss the plaintiff and the wifey.
By 2010, Ludacris was not only an established movie star (he’d appeared in the Best Picture Oscar winner Crash) but had even broken bread with President Obama. And according to the rapper himself, he and O’Reilly squashed their public beef over a private dinner.
“The first thing I said to him was, ‘I want to meet the guy who has had so much to say about me, but knows absolutely nothing about me,'” Ludacris reportedly told RadarOnline.com. “I identified that I wanted to speak to him when I saw his name on the guest list. I looked at what table he was on and I walked my ass straight to that table.”
“He wasn’t expecting to see me at all. The look on his face when he saw me approaching … priceless,” he added.
Ludacris went on to say that they had “a good conversation and good came out of it.”
But as O’Reilly, and for that matter Pepsi, continue to exist under a cloud of scandal, it’s hard for Ludacris fans not to feel a sense of schadenfreude.
The New York Times revealed earlier this month that O’Reilly and Fox had doled out roughly $13 million in hush money to multiple women who alleged sexual harassment from O’Reilly.
The Fox News host has stubbornly refused to address the claims, but over 50 sponsors have decided where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and they have rushed to disassociate themselves from his highly-rated prime-time program, “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Meanwhile, Pepsi is on the defensive after rolling out a widely-mocked, elaborate ad featuring reality star Kendall Jenner, which critics argued tried to co-opt imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement, only to diffuse it with trite commercialism.
And Fox News, which already had to break ties with its longtime impresario Roger Ailes last year because of his own sexual harassment scandal, is also being bombarded with bad press — on top of the O’Reilly allegations, there have recently been claims that the network has systemic racial discrimination as well.
Ironically, while Fox, O’Reilly and Pepsi remain in the hot seat, Ludacris appears poised for a new career high.
With his hip hop career still going strong, this month, he will also appear in the latest installment of his blockbuster Fast and Furious franchise, which will almost assuredly dominate the box office here and around the globe,
Ludacris appears to have gotten the last laugh — and it’s all the way to the bank.
Adam Howard is a researcher for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which airs on TBS. Follow him on Twitter @at_howard.