In May 2011, after it was announced that Chicago rapper Common was invited to the White House to attend a poetry reading, the musician was met with harsh criticism from “The O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly and others at Fox News.

The news network labeled the Windy City lyricist as “vile,” a moment the Nobody’s Smiling crafter says was “a super shock.” While addressing the backlash in a newly-released interview, he says he was surprised by the remarks, but eventually recognized that Fox News’ criticism was their attempt to “get at the president.”

“Man, that was a super shock,” he said during an interview with Vlad TV. “I remember I was working on this movie called Love and I started getting some text messages saying ‘Man, don’t worry about what they saying about you.’ I was thinking they was talking about some gossip shit. You know? I’m like ‘Aight, what they saying?’ Then I got word that Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, whoever else in the news was saying ‘Aw man, Common is a vile rapper. [He’s] an anti-police rapper.’ I was like ‘man.’ It was really surprising to me, but then I recognized who it was coming from.”

Common later revealed that the criticism from Fox News came shortly after a Fox news station praised the rapper for being a quality artist in an interview they conducted with him.

“And it was ironically enough two weeks before that they had did—Somebody from Fox News or Fox local news had did an interview about how quality of an artist I was,” he said. “So, I just felt—Eventually I understood that I got caught up in the crossfire of Fox News trying to get at the president. President Obama and the First Lady. But thank God they stood strong and was like ‘Hey, he’s still coming to the White House. We know who he is’… [We] actually went to the same church at one point, which was Trinity United Church of Christ, so I’m connected. I love the president and the First Lady. I’m gonna stand with them no matter what.”

Fox News’ criticism of Common came shortly after the news network became aware of the rapper’s record, “A Song For Assata.” Assata Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party and godmother to the late Tupac Shakur. She is currently listed on FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.

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