The backlash started early Monday morning on Fox & Friends, where, just five minutes past the 6 a.m. hour, the hosts began to lay into what they viewed as inappropriate thematic material for the most-watched television event of the year.
While Steve Doocy thought Coldplay was just OK and Bruno Mars was “fantastic,” he telegraphed his point by noting that Beyoncé “was in there too.”
“I couldn’t really make out what Beyoncé was saying,” host Brian Kilmeade added after the show aired some footage of her performance. “But at the end, we find out Beyoncé dressed up in a tribute to the Black Panthers, went to a Malcolm X formation. And the song, the lyrics, which I couldn’t make out a syllable, were basically telling cops to stop shooting blacks!”
“I’ve got to be honest with you, I had no idea when this was going on,” Anna Kooiman added, before Doocy explained to her that “Formation” has quickly become a “rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Even more apoplectic in a subsequent segment was former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was brought on to talk about the New Hampshire primary, but couldn’t help but weigh in on the halftime show first.
“I think it was outrageous,” Giuliani said. “The halftime show I thought was ridiculous anyway. I don’t know what the heck it was. A bunch of people bouncing around and all strange things. It was terrible.”
“This is football, not Hollywood,” he continued, “and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive. And what we should be doing in the African-American community, and all communities, is build up respect for police officers.”
Giuliani called for “decent, wholesome entertainment” during the Super Bowl, which, as he pointed out, is watched by “middle America.” In his view, the halftime show should not be “used as a platform to attack the people who put their lives at risk to save us.”
Since none of the hosts could quite make out what Beyoncé was saying, it was primarily the sight of dozens of black women dancing in costumes that were vaguely reminiscent of Black Panther uniforms that had them up in arms. However, the imagery put forward by the singer during the Super Bowl was far less overt than that what she included in the music video for the song released on Saturday.
For much of the video, Beyoncé can be seen singing atop a sinking police car. More striking is a shot of a young black boy dancing in front on a row of police officers in riot gear with their hands in the air. “Stop shooting us” is scrawled in graffiti on the wall.
Lyrically, the song is more about general empowerment and does not include direct references to Black Lives Matter. However, it does contain lines like this: “My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama, I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros, I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”
That passage did not sit well with conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, who tweeted out this reaction during the show:
Meanwhile, Breitbart News responded Monday afternoon with an exhaustive rundown of the various black power references in the Super Bowl performance, concluding with an argument that Beyoncé owes her success to the “capitalist system the leftist Black Lives Matter movement is intent on destroying.”
Over on Fox Business, Stuart Varney asked, “Is there anything in America which can exclude race? I mean, why is race brought into the halftime show at a Super Bowl game, why?” And not to be outdone, Rush Limbaugh said her performance was "representative of the cultural decay and the political decay and the social rot that is befalling our country.”
Beyoncé’s war with conservative media has been going on for years at this point. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has long blamed her and husband Jay Z for promoting “gangsta culture.” Mike Huckabee, who is likely headed back to Fox after his latest failed bid for the presidency, called Beyoncé’s lyrics “mental poison” in his recent book and wondered if Jay Z “is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?”
One “conservative” who resisted the chance to be outraged? Donald Trump. Compared to his own life, he found everything about last night’s big game “boring.”