Oprah Winfrey has become a lightning rod for race discussion during a summer already overflowing with it, and while critics have pounced on her decision to talk about an incident where she believes she was on the receiving end of racism, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly is sticking up for her.
"Ms. Winfrey has gotten a lot of heat for her criticism and her statements, but Talking Points believes her critics are misguided," O'Reilly said during his Talking Points Memo segment on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Wednesday. "That was Oprah's experience and she has the perfect right to express her feelings about it. The truth is, there are racists, there are people who don't like women holding power. There are all kinds of loons running around and everybody knows it."
As TheWrap first reported, Winfrey told Larry King earlier this month that a sales clerk in Switzerland refused to show her a $38,000 handbag after insisting, "No, that one's too expensive." Switzerland's tourism office has since apologized for the incident, and Winfrey has apologized, too.
"I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I'm really sorry that it got blown up," Winfrey said at the premiere of "Lee Daniels' The Butler" this week. "It's not an indictment against the country or even that store," she noted. "It was just one person who didn't want to offer me the opportunity to see the bag. So no apologies necessary from the country of Switzerland."
Thanks to the George Zimmerman trial, and Paula Deen's highly-publicized N-word scandal, racism has been one of the most prominent topics in the media this summer.
Since Winfrey has entered the mix, critics have accused her of sharing the handbag story as a way to publicize her latest movie, which explores the civil rights movement through the eyes of a White House butler.
"Oprah’s got a movie out about the butler. It would be really terrible if she was using this story to promote the movie," GOP strategist Dee Dee Benkie said during a guest appearance on Fox News this week. "I’m not saying that. But I gotta say, it’s not fair to call anyone a racist whenever there’s no proof of it. There’s absolutely zero proof. Rude, yes. Racist, no.”
During an appearance on Tuesday's "Piers Morgan Tonight," CNN "Crossfire" host S.E. Cupp called Winfrey's decision to share her handbag story "a pretty significant charge to levy and a little reckless on her part."
Although O'Reilly voiced his support for Winfrey, he gave her some words of advice on avoiding similar backlash in the future.
"Ignore those troglodytes, unless the situation is serious," O'Reilly said. "The truth is, you're not going to change the minds of the ignorant, and it's not worth the effort, in any case."
Watch O'Reilly voice his opinion on the matter, below: