Juan Williams, the only black co-host of Fox News’ The Five, tried to make the point on Wednesday afternoon that when Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis warned voters not to “monkey this up” and elect his African-American opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, he may have been employing a “racial” dog whistle. Greg Gutfeld wasn’t hearing it.
While another co-host, Brian Kilmeade, admitted that DeSantis’ choice of words was “unfortunate,” Gutfeld was quick to accuse the left of “race-baiting” in response to what he viewed as a completely innocuous turn of phrase.
“You’ve got to really suspend belief to think that a guy using ‘monkeying’ as a verb suddenly meant to use it as a noun in order to dog whistle everybody in front of the media,” Gutfeld said of what he called the “non-story.”
When Williams pushed back, saying, “I don't think you can just close your eyes when you see something so racial,” Gutfeld interrupted him with, “It's not racial.”
“Why don't you let him clarify, instead of doing a lynch mob?” Gutfeld asked.
“Are you kidding? Nobody is lynching anybody,” Williams replied, saying he hopes DeSantis clarifies his comments when he appears on Sean Hannity’s show later tonight. “I am just saying I don't think it's smart for us to be like, ‘Oh, we didn't see anything. Nothing happened here.’”
Later, during an appearance with host Martha MacCallum, Williams continued to argue that DeSantis was “sending a signal” to white nationalists with his words, likening it to the incident in which former Trump aide David Bossie was suspended by Fox News for telling a black commentator, “You’re out of your cotton-picking mind.”
“I think it's really sad to make those assumptions about a phrase like that,” MacCallum said in response.
Those takes from Gutfeld and MacCallum are hardly surprising, but they are notable given that it comes after Sandra Smith, the Fox News anchor was interviewing DeSantis when he made his original remarks, later read a statement on air that declared, “We do not condone this language.”
A spokesperson for DeSantis has said that the comment “had nothing to do with race or anything like that,” but Gillum, also appearing on Fox, used the incident to further tie his opponent to President Trump.
“It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump,” Gillum told Fox’s Shepard Smith. “In the handbook of Donald Trump, they no longer do whistle calls. They are now using full bullhorns.”