It’s been a bad week for Fox News. Two of its well-known personalities are under fire for controversial remarks. Tucker Carlson’s come from the mid-to-late 2000s on a shock jock’s radio program; former judge Jeanine Pirro made hers on air during her show, Justice With Judge Jeanine.
— Media Matters (@mmfa) March 10, 2019
Fox News was quick to condemn Ms. Pirro’s remarks, saying in a release:
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) March 11, 2019
But despite the corporate scolding, Pirro did not apologize for her remarks. Nor did Carlson. (Though he was—amazingly—not scolded by the Fox mothership.) Both should apologize. Neither will. Apologizing in the era of Trump is weakness. Doubling down or strategic silence or pivoting to whataboutism is hotness.
In a very real sense, Pirro is lucky. Carlson became a human shield for her as the media focused on his much more extensive remarks. With the liberal outrage mob fixated on his Bubba the Love Sponge appearances, a conservative outrage mob materialized to white knight for him.
But Pirro’s relative good fortune was also a market opportunity for a certain class of grifters to get noticed by standing up for Judge Jeanine.
First among them? Of course, it’s former Fox News contributor and artisanal business card maker, Sebastian Gorka.
“She’s absolutely right. . . . The hijab is a requirement of the religion of Islam. It is part of Sharia law. Sharia law does not comport with the U.S. Constitution. Judge Jeanine, we have your back. Hold the line. You are speaking the truth.”
Next up was Charlie Kirk from Turning Point USA, who eschewed an affirmative defense in favor of whataboutism:
My dear friend @JudgeJeanine is the latest target of the left’s outrage machine – we have a member of Congress who is now openly anti-Semitic and Pelosi it off, & she still serves on the committees!
If the left didn’t have double standards they wouldn’t have any standards at all
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) March 11, 2019
Bill O’Reilly came out of his semi-retirement to weigh in, too. Though he wasn’t defending Pirro so much as just asking questions, you guys!
So let me get this straight: Congresswoman Omar can question the motives of Americans who support Israel, but Judge Pirro cannot question Ms. Omar’s motives? Do I have that straight? Nix the nonsense, get smart news analysis on https://t.co/rryWmyXe7C.
— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) March 11, 2019
Podcaster Wayne DuPree had this theory: Fox News was just throwing Pirro under the bus to get a Democratic presidential primary debate. (Does he really think the DNC is that cheap a date?)
VDARE vlogger Faith Goldy, who we wrote about last week, used this opportunity to posture for her fans and threatened to boycott Fox if they fired Pirro. If Faith Goldy is for you, who can be against you?
Allow your hosts to speak the truth about Islam!
If you fire or suspend Judge Jeanine, you won't just lose me as a viewer, you'll gain your worst critic.#loomered
— Faith J Goldy (@FaithGoldy) March 12, 2019
Jeff Kuhner, a morning drive host in Boston, likewise threatened to boycott Fox, suggesting Pirro did nothing wrong:
If @FoxNews fires @JudgeJeanine then I am DONE with FOX. She said nothing wrong. She never said wearing hijab is un-American/unconstitutional. Instead judge said ask Rep Ilhan Omar if she supports Sharia Law. So questioning Muslims is a crime? #MAGA #JudgeJeanine #CreepingSharia
— Jeff Kuhner (@TheKuhnerReport) March 11, 2019
Dennis Michael Lynch, a far-right documentary filmmaker who briefly had presidential delusions, had this to say:
ONE NATION UNDER GOD. We're not ONE NATION UNDER ALLAH. Freedom of religion is here for all, but If u believe in the Quran fully then there's no way u can truly believe in the Constitution. Ask any hardcore Muslim about "wife obedience" and then explain to me how that's American.
— Dennis Michael Lynch (@realDennisLynch) March 11, 2019
Author Montgomery Granger weighed in with a similar defense:
.@JudgeJeanine I was suspended from Twitter for 12 hours after calling a certain Congresswoman a "domestic enemy." Islam is THEOCRACY, which is incompatible w/democracy & the 1st Amendment. What is an "Islamic State" other than an autocratic theocracy? UN-American! Hang in there! pic.twitter.com/Xu8XIciGGx
— Montgomery Granger (@mjgranger1) March 11, 2019
Actor Robert Davi took it up a notch and pivoted to video with his support:
— Robert Davi (@RobertJohnDavi) March 11, 2019
Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer (no relation to Richard) ran with the common theme of Pirro is just asking questions:
Sharia denies freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, equality of rights of women, and equality of rights of non-Muslims. Wearing hijab is a sign of adherence to Sharia. So what did @JudgeJeanine say that was wrong about @IlhanMN? She asked questions that need to be asked.
— Robert Spencer (@jihadwatchRS) March 11, 2019
Joe Pagliarulo, a talk show host in Texas, took a different tack: He suggested that anyone who thought Pirro’s remarks were an “attack” on Rep. Ilhan Omar was… not a journalist!
Anyone calling what @JudgeJeanine said on her show an "attack on @IlhanMN," is not a journalist. I just watched it.. it's anything but. Also, if you don't think Sharia Law is antithetical to the Constitution, you're ignorant. Why won't media ask the rep her thoughts on Sharia?
— Joe Pags Pagliarulo (@JoeTalkShow) March 11, 2019
Last but not least, we have Jessie Jane Duff, a retired Marine who goes on Fox News from time to time. Her whataboutism defense included all the usual accoutrements, but had an extra special “they fight!” at the end.
Media Matters dug for a DECADE of transcripts to find a flimsy "gotcha moment."
But remain silent w/ Democrats anti Semitism, a blackface klansman & bigotted comments by Joy Reid, Kaitlan Collins & Josh Dawsey.
— Jessie Jane Duff (@JessieJaneDuff) March 11, 2019
Update (3/17/19): After reports surfaced that Jeanine Pirro was suspended by Fox News for two weeks, President Donald Trump tweeted a three tweet defense of Pirro:
Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well. Fox …..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
….must stay strong and fight back with vigor. Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them. Be strong & prosper, be weak & die! Stay true….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
….to the people that got you there. Keep fighting for Tucker, and fight hard for @JudgeJeanine. Your competitors are jealous – they all want what you’ve got – NUMBER ONE. Don’t hand it to them on a silver platter. They can’t beat you, you can only beat yourselves!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
After President Trump’s tweet, his son Eric also voiced support:
I have known @JudgeJeanine for nearly 30 years. She is an amazing person and talent. This is nothing more than manufactured outrage intended to silence conservative voice. Frankly it’s very sad.
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) March 17, 2019
His wife, Lara Trump, joined him:
— Lara Trump (@LaraLeaTrump) March 17, 2019
And Jeremy Frankel from the Daily Wire, chimed in, saying that the sick part in all of this is how Fox News “caved to the leftist mob.” (A view he’s held for a few days.)
It’s really sick how Fox caved to the Leftist mob. @EricTrump we need to stand behind her.
— Jeremy “Dual Loyalties” Frankel (@FrankelJeremy) March 17, 2019
Pirro’s supposed suspension did elicit some other defenses. Here’s an evangelical pastor, Mark Burns, who is most known for his support of President Trump:
— Pastor Mark Burns (@pastormarkburns) March 17, 2019
Newsmax host John Cardillo:
She wasn’t incendiary. She asked legitimate questions. She did her job. https://t.co/JtDPnEEVWE
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) March 17, 2019
The Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell:
I’m on Jeanine Pirro’s side. She has EVERY right to ask if this fundamentalist Muslim Congresswoman supports Sharia law, which is a direct challenge to the Constitution. IT’S A QUESTION!Man up, Fox. They’re pushing you around. https://t.co/I0aTCi9PrA
— Brent Bozell (@BrentBozell) March 17, 2019
Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton went with a broad statement of support (complete with photo) rather than specifically defending Pirro’s remarks.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) March 17, 2019
Pro-Trump editorial cartoonist Ben Garrison asked Fox News to #StoptheCensorship.
— GrrrGraphics Cartoons (@GrrrGraphics) March 18, 2019
BlazeTV’s Chad Francis Prather is missing Jeanine Pirro’s “TRUTH.”
I wanted to hear @JudgeJeanine spit some more TRUTH tonight but alas….
— Chad Francis Prather (@WatchChad) March 18, 2019
Of course, better late than never, it’s Candace Owens!
I’ve nevr been interested in the topic of Islam but given the censoring of @JudgeJeanine & the shameless anti-semitism of @IlhanMN, I will host a Muslim that has defected from the religion on my show to better understand the debate.
America needs MORE conversation Not censoring
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) March 18, 2019
Author and Islam-critic Brigitte Gabriel encouraged her fans to contact Fox to stand with Pirro.
Judge Jeanine did NOTHING wrong.
People should be outraged that Fox News decided to cave to the latest leftist PC campaign. They gave the left everything they wanted by punishing someone for telling the TRUTH.
Click here to tell Fox News you are FURIOUS: https://t.co/za0EIVZFng
— Brigitte Gabriel (@ACTBrigitte) March 18, 2019
Failed Senate candidate Corey Stewart expressed his wish for her to return to the air soon. (After incorrectly suggesting that she’d been fired by Fox.)
Hope they bring her back.
— Corey Stewart (@CoreyStewartVA) March 18, 2019
Talker Mike Opelka went with a full whataboutism pose.
@JudgeJeanine suffered more consequences for asking a tough question than Representative Ilhan Omar suffered after repeatedly making anti-semitic statements. #TruthHasNoAgenda #AskIlhanAboutShariaVsUSLaw
— Mike Opelka (@stuntbrain) March 18, 2019
As did New York talk host Mark Simone.
What kind of crazy world has this now become where Jeanine Pirro's comments have caused more outrage than Ilan Omar's???https://t.co/maEyz8zluA
— MARK SIMONE (@MarkSimoneNY) March 18, 2019
Paul Joseph Watson, currently of InfoWars (he’s hanging his own conspiratorial shingle soon, we read), got straight to the point:
Jeanine Pirro did nothing wrong. Fox suspended her for 2 weeks. Pathetic behavior.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) March 18, 2019
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from him, but The Mooch can be relied upon to be a team player.
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) March 19, 2019
From across the pond, British reality TV contestant Katie Hopkins made the suspension about a lack of loyalty.
Used to keep the good ship @FoxNews afloat in times of plenty, cut like ballast at the first sign of stormy seas.
Where is the network’s loyalty? She is the token sacrifice to placate the mob
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) March 17, 2019
Depressingly, not many conservatives were willing to criticize Pirro. There were some exceptions, including Guy Benson and Erick Erickson. And Fox News producer Hufsa Kamal, who is Muslim, criticized her on Twitter, saying: “@JudgeJeanine can you stop spreading this false narrative that somehow Muslims hate America or women who wear a hijab aren’t American enough? You have Muslims working at the same network you do, including myself. K thx.”
But look at the reaction Kamal got and you can understand why conservatives were reluctant to put themselves out there: Kamal received such a deluge of negative feedback from the right that she had to lock her Twitter account.
And conservatives also probably realized that criticizing Pirro wouldn’t have had any real effect. Seventy-two hours from now, everyone will have forgotten that Pirro latest slip. Just as they’ve forgotten about her other controversial remarks about Islam, her defamation lawsuit, or the fact that she’s pro-choice.
Just as long as she’s on the right side of the Trump issue, that’s all that matters.