Celebrity feud averted! Yesterday, footage was made public that showed Tom Hanks emceeing a 2004 school fundraiser in which a fellow parent donned blackface and a stereotypical (read: racist) costume. Hanks explained that he had been “blindsided” by the “hideously offensive” gag, but a conservative civil rights group called for President Obama to repudiate the actor, who provided the narration on a recent Obama 2012 campaign video.
But that wasn’t the end of the story for the two-time Oscar winner. While hosting the 2004 event, Hanks made an awkward off-hand joke about the taste-challenged interloper: “Who would have thought that Bill O’Reilly would join us?” The implication being that Fox News pundit O’Reilly was racist.
Today, Hanks issued a follow-up statement to The Daily Caller (the website — founded by former Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson — that received the blackface video first). “I used Bill O’Reilly as the punch line of an uncomfortable joke that was hardly funny and [was] unfair,” he said. “I have no reason to think Mr. O’Reilly would have found both the reason for the joke nor my use of it funny in any way.”
To his credit, O’Reilly isn’t holding any grudges. “I accept his apology — everybody makes mistakes,” he told the site. “I don’t think that Hanks had anything [in mind] other than trying to get a wise-guy line off. … I don’t hold it against him.”