WASHINGTON ― Most news networks reporting on President Donald Trump’s remarks about restricting immigrants from “shithole countries” notably didn’t shy away from using the vulgar word, and called the president’s insult what it was ― racist.
But over at Fox News, Trump’s network of choice, hosts and panelists were defending the president’s crude comments before shifting to other topics.
After The Washington Post on Thursday afternoon first reported Trump’s remarks at a White House meeting with lawmakers, “The Five” co-host Jesse Watters shrugged off the slur as the way ordinary Americans talk about “Haiti people.”
“If it’s true, this is how the forgotten men and women in America talk at the bar,” Watters said. “This is how Trump relates to people. If you’re at a bar, and you’re from Wisconsin, and you’re thinking, ‘They’re bringing in a bunch of Haiti people, or El Salvadorians, or people from Niger.’ This is how some people talk.”
Watters’ defense was reminiscent of the way the president and his allies downplayed Trump’s videotaped boast of being able to “grab [women] by the pussy” as simply “locker room talk.”
Later Thursday evening, prime-time Fox host Tucker Carlson kicked off his show by questioning what all the fuss was about.
“For some reason virtually everyone in New York, Washington, and LA considered this a major, major event,” Carlson said. “Why is that?”
Then he launched into a defense.
“So, if you say Norway is a better place to live, and Haiti is kind of a hole, well, anyone who’s been to those countries or has lived in them would agree,” Carlson said. “But we’re jumping up and down, ‘Oh, you can’t say that.’ Why can’t you say that?”
Later in his show, Carlson turned to what he said should be “a big news story”: “are UFOs real?”
Panelists on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show defended Trump as being “authentic.” But, as usual, Hannity’s main focus was Democrats and the Russia investigation.
Changing the subject is a classic Fox strategy in the face of unflattering Trump news.
In October, when Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort in the investigation into possible election collusion with Russia, “Fox & Friends” made a passing reference to the developing story, then followed up ― with an update on Google’s “cheeseburger emoji crisis.”