Bill O'Reilly sorry for 'racist, sexist' joke about congresswoman

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has apologised after coming under fire for mocking a black congresswoman's looks, admitting what he said was "dumb".

On the Fox & Friends show, O'Reilly reacted to a clip of Maxine Waters delivering a speech by joking about her appearance and dismissing her impassioned plea for true patriotism.

"I didn't hear a word she said, I was looking at the James Brown wig," said O'Reilly.

"Do we have a picture of James Brown? It’s the same wig."

The remarks were widely denounced as both racist and sexist and caused O'Reilly's name to trend on Twitter.

Bill O'Reilly sorry for insulting Maxine Waters hair
Representative Maxine Waters (Getty)

"As I have said many times, I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs," O'Reilly later said in a statement.

"I said that again today on Fox & Friends calling her 'old school'. Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologise."

When O'Reilly initially made the comments, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade laughed heartily and exclaimed the wig insult was "true".

Co-host Ainsley Earhardt, however, immediately admonished the joke, saying "You can't go after a woman's looks. I think she's very attractive."

Fox & Friends has recently been personally promoted by President Donald Trump himself on Twitter.

Newshub.