Fox News released a statement in defense of host Laura Ingraham after she featured white supremacist Paul Nehlen in a graphic of “prominent voices censored on social media” on her show Thursday night.
Critics raged that Ingraham would feature Nehlen ― a known anti-Semite who was seen in a T-shirt that celebrated the shooter of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh ― as a sympathetic character whose speech was under attack. But in a statement on Friday, Fox News homed in on CNN’s characterization of the segment, saying it was “obscene to suggest” that she was “defending” Nehlen.
The statement reads:
It is obscene to suggest that Laura Ingraham was defending Paul Nehlen’s despicable actions especially when some of the names on the graphic were pulled from an Associated Press report on best known political extremists banned from Facebook. Anyone who watches Laura’s show knows that she is a fierce protector of freedom of speech and the intent of the segment was to highlight the growing trend of unilateral censorship in America.
During a segment on “The Ingraham Angle” Thursday, Ingraham displayed a graphic of “prominent voices censored on social media” while discussing what Ingraham characterized as a liberal plot to “silence conservative voices” with conservative commentator Candace Owens.
Among the voices she deemed “silenced” on social media were conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, career Islamophobe and online troll Laura Loomer, and Nehlen, all of whom have been banned from various social media platforms for breaking their terms of service in regards to hate speech.
While Fox News’ defense of Ingraham claims that many of those names were lifted from an Associated Press report “on best known political extremists banned from Facebook,” Ingraham never characterized them as extremists. Instead, during her segment, she said they’d been “shunned” from social media and called for conservatives to “stand up to these censors.”
Ingraham herself appeared to respond to criticism by wagging her finger on Twitter at those who would give a platform to racists.
“Retweeting screenshots of despicable old tweets by racists and/or anti-semites must make those racists & anti-semites very happy,” she tweeted Friday.
That platform, however, was given to Nehlen and broadcast to Fox News’ massive daily audience. Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would be watching Ingraham’s show, and urged others to follow along.
Meanwhile, one of the show’s advertisers, a photo company called Fracture, told HuffPost that it would pull its ads from “The Ingraham Angle,” saying that “she expressed alarming views that run entirely counter to the values that we hold as a company.”
This has been updated throughout.