Fox News host Bill O'Reilly defended the treatment of slaves who helped build the White House on July 26 (video below).
O'Reilly made his comments in relation to first lady Michelle Obama's well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention on July 25 in which she said: "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves."
According to MediaMatters.org, O'Reilly responded:
"Slaves did participate in the construction of the White House. Records show about 400 payments made to slave masters between 1795 and 1801. In addition, free blacks, whites and immigrants also worked on the massive building. There were no illegal immigrants at that time. If you could make it here, you could stay here.
"In 1800, President John Adams took up residence in what was then called the Executive Mansion. It was only later on they named it the White House. But Adams was in there with Abigail, and they were still hammering nails, the construction was still going on.
"Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz."
It's not clear what source O'Reilly was referring to regarding slaves being "well-fed" and having "decent lodgings," but his last line seemed to be aimed at skeptics, who didn't believe the first lady's speech.
The Root noted some of the derisive comments directed at Obama on Twitter:
"White House was not built by slaves, no matter how many times Mooch repeats the lie."
"I can't believe Michelle or Michael insist the White House was built by slaves. Race baiter!"
"How did she bring 'White House was built by slaves' to this speech."
PolitiFact noted that the first lady's statement was true, but added that paid workers were also part of the construction of the White House.