During Bill O’Reilly‘s visit to NBC’s “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday night, the Fox News pundit spoke with Jimmy Fallon about the ongoing unrest in Ferguson and across the nation in response to the grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
“It’s a really terrible story. We’re all Americans. We should all be in this together,” O’Reilly said. “These kinds of stories divide us along racial lines, and sometimes ideological lines.”
He explained that he saw the story as having two facets: factual and emotional. On the factual side was the grand jury deliberations and decision. “You have to accept it. I mean, that’s our system,” he said. “You don’t like it, you don’t agree with it.”
But the other side is far more complex, and rooted in American history, perception and culture.
“You have the emotional thing where African-Americans — some of them, not all — feel that the justice system does not give them a fair shake,” O’Reilly continued. “That’s a legitimate protest and I respect that because things don’t change in this country unless you protest. They don’t get better unless you protest … And that makes America vibrant, that if you don’t like something, protest it.
“But don’t burn down somebody’s store; somebody who’s worked their whole life to build.”
As for why the judgment was released so late in the evening, after dark, O’Reilly had a pretty simple theory on that. “The prosecutor was basically trying to get in front of the country, and that’s when you do it, in prime time,” he said. “He wanted to get his case in front of the country and say, Look, we did all of this and we believe this is a fair verdict. So you do that in prime time.”
The decision was announced at 9 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. CT in Ferguson, Missouri. It was almost immediately followed by protests that quickly grew violent, despite please from local law enforcement and even President Barack Obama in a televised address.
Video will be added when it becomes available.
“The O’Reilly Factor” airs weeknights at 8 p.m. ET on Fox News. “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC.