Pundit Billy O'Reilly welcomed Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the late Trayvon Martin, onto the O'Reilly Factor on Thursday evening to discuss the long anticipated arrest of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed her teenage son.
Martin, 17, was walking home alone through a gated community in Sanford, Florida in February when Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watchman, shot him to death.
Zimmerman was not arrested by the local police as he claimed he had acted in self defense, but a national outcry quickly followed, with supporters and activists calling for Zimmerman's arrest. Martin was a victim of racial profiling they contend, and responding to intensifying pressure Zimmerman was finally arrested earlier this week.
O'Reilly, who formed his opinion on the case early on, has been sharply critical of other in the media for 'rushing to judgment' about Martin's case, the Huffington Post reports.
On Thursday evening O'Reilly began by telling Fulton he was sorry for her loss. 'I can't imagine the pain you go through. So I think all Americans are feeling your pain. And we all want justice in the case. From the beginning, we've just called for calm. Let the system work. Let's not convict Zimmerman on television. Let's not make these wild charges.'
Then in a clear swipe at Fox News' rival MSNBC network O'Reilly called for MSNBC host Al Sharpton to apologize. O'Reilly contended that by pressing for an arrest Sharpton had simply 'whipped up emotion.'
Fulton countered that without the public rallies, some of which Sharpton promoted and attended, the pressure to arrest Zimmerman would not have grown.
O'Reilly called Fulton, Martin's father and their lawyer 'magnificent,' but he claimed that unspecified groups of others around the country have 'whipped up emotion.' O'Reilly again said that Sharpton should apologize for some of the things he said.
'You want me to comment on that? I don't know everything that's behind it. I haven't been watching a lot of the news. And I haven't been watching what everyone was saying. So I'm not sure what response you want," Fulton said, looking slightly exasperated.
O'Reilly added that he did not agree with 'convicting Zimmerman on TV,' although he appeared to have no issue with defending him on TV. Fulton's lawyer Benjamin Crump took that moment to say that rather convict or defend him, he just wanted to see Zimmerman have his day in court.
O'Reilly concluded: 'We're all Americans here. No one wants a 17-year-old son shot down on the street. Mr. Zimmerman doesn't want to see his son's life ruined because of this. This is a tragedy all the way around. And we have to handle it with the utmost respect.'