FOX & Friends warped Pete Buttigieg’s remarks on Thomas Jefferson to try and paint a picture of the South Bend mayor as unpatriotic and imply he wants to cancel the Founding Fathers from history.
Mayor Pete’s remarks on Jefferson were made in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt last week. Hewitt had asked him about the practice of renaming things that were named to honor a slave owner.
Buttigieg offered, as usual, a nuanced answer: “Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do. Over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor … Jefferson is more problematic. There’s a lot, of course, to admire in his thinking and his philosophy, but then again if you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew slavery was wrong, and yet he did it. Now we’re are all morally conflicted human beings. It’s not like we’re blotting him out of the history books or deleting him from being [in] the Founding Fathers, but naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. The real reason I think there is a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present. We’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from. It’s alive and well and hurting people…”
But FOX News does not operate on nuance. Here’s how it played out this morning, the morning after a FOX News Town Hall widely seen as a big win for Mayor Pete, at which he was applauded for his remarks on abortion and for calling out anti-immigration remarks by two of its anchors, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson.
The FOX & Friends hosts seemed astonished that Mayor Pete got applause. Host Brian Kilmeade had an explanation: “They’re all his friends. I think he’s related to the whole audience.”
Kilmeade later got upset that Buttigieg had the audacity to criticize Carlson and Ingraham: “Don’t hop on our channel and continue to put down the other hosts on the channel—if you feel that negative about it, don’t come.”
Then Kilmeade called Buttigieg a “clown” before bringing on a guest who completely misrepresented how the remarks were first reported.
The hosts went on to discuss it, further distorting the remarks, and somehow brought Obama into the discussion.
Said Ainsley Earhardt: ‘[Pete Buttigieg] said, “I’m not saying I want to go and remove that one,” he said. “But I would like to rename some of these streets after people, African-Americans.”‘
Replied Kilmeade: “Well, look. And here’s the danger of this, Ainsley. So you say Thomas Jefferson no longer is worthy of having a Jefferson-Jackson dinner? OK. Well what about Barack Obama? Well it’s Barack Obama, we love him. Well, did you love him in 2008 when he says marriage is between a man and woman? Did he show intolerance then? Because in 2012 he said same-sex marriage is fine. Was he not worthy in ’08 and is he worthy in 2012? We are an impossible scale to what he is talking about — is instead of saluting our founding fathers, begin to diminish their importance. We wouldn’t be a country without that.”
Added Doocy: “Well, he took aim at a couple of news outlets. I think Fox and the New York Times as well. Because in his original comments with Hugh Hewitt he was asked about removing the names from the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. That was where they started and then eventually he went on to say he didn’t want Jefferson’s name entirely stripped from the public square, but instead honorary titles, for instance those Democratic dinners. He said last night that that’s what he was talking about. We just gave him the opportunity to clarify.”