The Fox News Apology Tour
Four apologies in one week over at Fox News! But it’s interesting to observe what they are and aren’t sorry about.
What a week for Fox News! The “fair and balanced” network was transformed into the “I’m totally sorry” network after we were treated to four—yes, four—on-air apologies from different Fox personalities.
First, we had “The Five’s” Greg Gutfeld and Eric Bolling mock a female air force pilot with some really sexist jokes. Now, they probably thought no one would care because she’s Arab. But luckily it seems that the outrage against sexism applies to women of all ethnicities and races.
Bolling and Gutfeld’s comments came during a discussion of the United Arab Emirate’s Major Mariam Al Mansouri, who flew missions as part of the United States-led coalition bombing ISIS. Al Mansouri might be heralded in the UAE for being the nation’s first female fighter, but to the comedy duo of Bolling and Gutfeld, she’s just a punch line.
Gutfeld quipped: “After she bombed it, she couldn’t park it." (Referring to her plane.) And then Bolling, whom I often find funny although he’s trying to be serious, tried to top Gutfeld with the crack: “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?”
The backlash was swift. Even some of these two frat boys’ colleagues were upset. And then it built as Americans who had served in the military voiced their objections.
The result was Gutfeld and Bolling offered what appear to be sincere apologies. In fact, Bolling offered two different ones on air, so he singlehandily represents 50 percent of the Fox News apologies for the week.
And then we have a comment that comes under the category of not trying to be funny but trying to see how much red meat you can offer viewers. Last Saturday, Fox News regular guest Jonathan Hoenig commented in essence that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a good thing for America with his boastful statement: “The last war this country won, we put Japanese Americans in internment camps.”
Why would that even come up, you ask? Because the four panelists—anchored by King of Comedy Eric Bolling—were talking about how law enforcement must absolutely, positively profile Muslim Americans. During their discussion regaling the joys of profiling a minority group, Bolling offered a comment that truly showcased his talent for nuance: “We know how to find the terrorists among us: profile, profile, profile."
Hoenig, apparently wanting to continue being booked on Fox News, felt the need to up the anti-Muslim ante. Picking up where Bolling left off, Hoenig remarked, "but aren't all Muslims suspect…given the history of Islamic threats towards this country?" That’s when Hoenig touted the upside of interning Japanese Americans, with his point apparently being it’s a possible model to follow today with Muslim Americans.
Cue another backlash. This time it was led by civil rights groups and even members of Congress like Rep. Mike Honda of California, who as a child had been held in an internment camp. Over the weekend Hoenig went on Fox News and offered an apology for his remark that interning Japanese Americans was something we should be proud of.
Look, we all make mistakes—not only in real life but also on TV. In fact, I have made jokes/comments on television and on Twitter that have landed me in hot water. Consequently, I have apologized on more than one occasion for my own idiotic remarks.
But Fox always manages to push the boundaries and make things just a little surreal. So it was that in the same week these Fox “journalists” were dishing out a bevy of apologies, several different Fox shows slammed President Obama for what they dubbed his “apology tour” after his speech Wednesday at the United Nations.
Even apologist Greg Gutfeld slammed this so-called apology tour. You see, the Fox News peeps were upset that Obama would go before the United Nations and mention the protests that had taken place in Ferguson, Missouri. Apparently the geniuses at Fox believe that the world leaders have no idea that we have racial problems in the United States.
But pointing out hypocrisy at Fox News is like pointing out gaffes by Sarah Palin. Too easy. Of course, Fox News could have just stuck to its guns and not apologized. Bolling could have simply gone on air and exclaimed, “Hey, we are Fox Fucking News, we don’t apologize for shit!” Ratings would have shot to the heavens.
However, what I find more interesting than the Fox News apologies is the recent comments made by Fox News personalities that they would not apologize for.
First, there was the now well-known and awful remark a few weeks ago by Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade after viewing the video of Ray Rice in the elevator punching his then-fiancée Janay Palmer in the face. Kilmeade responded to the horrific image with the joke: “I think the message is, take the stairs.”
While Kilmeade walked back the comment the next day after an uproar, he did not apologize. Instead, he said, “Some people feel like we were taking this situation too lightly. We are not.” No, you did—you told a joke about it. That’s the very definition of taking something lightly!
And the second remark came during the Japanese internment conversation. While Hoenig apologized for seeing the upside to internment, no one thought it was important to apologize for advocating that we should tear up the U.S. Constitution and treat American Muslims differently simply because of our faith.
Not that I expected a Fox News anchor to apologize for that comment—after all, this is the same network that not only trashes Muslims almost daily, it gives the nation’s biggest anti-Muslim bigots a platform to spew hate.
So what have we learned? Fox News is a special, almost magical place. It’s a world where jokes about sexism are apologized for but ones about domestic violence are not. It's a place where minorities are degraded and maligned for fun. And it’s the highest-rated cable news channel in the nation.