Two of Fox News’ most prominent opinion hosts — Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson — began the week under fire for comments they made that drew intense criticism over the weekend.
Pirro — an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump who has become a fund-raiser in Pennsylvania and elsewhere for Republicans — questioned whether a hijab worn by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar signaled her support of Sharia law.
“Think about it: Omar wears a hijab,” Pirro said on her Fox News show Justice Saturday night. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”
Pirro’s comments were widely condemned. Hufsa Kamal, a Fox News producer who works on Special Report with Bret Baier, was among the loudest critics of Pirro’s comments, asking her colleague to “stop spreading this false narrative that somehow Muslims hate America.”
“You have Muslims working at the same network you do, including myself,” Kamal wrote on Twitter.
In a statement issued Sunday evening, Fox News said it condemned Pirro’s comments and had “addressed the matter with her directly.” But Pirro remained unapologetic.
“I’ve seen a lot of comments about my opening statement from Saturday night’s show and I did not call Rep. Omar un-American. My intention was to ask a question and start a debate, but of course because one is Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution,” Pirro said in her own statement. “I invite Rep. Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”
Omar thanked Fox News for condemning Pirro’s comments. She also said it’s wrong to question an individual’s commitment to the Constitution “because of their faith or country of birth.”
Pirro wasn’t the only Fox News host under fire Sunday. Earlier in the day, the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters unearthed old audio clips of Carlson calling into the syndicated radio show of Bubba the Love Sponge, a shock jock best known for filming the notorious Hulk Hogan sex tape.
The audio files from 2006 to 2010 feature Carlson making vulgar comments about women, offering a defense of statutory rape, and playing down the seriousness of illegally arranged marriages between men and underage girls.
“I mean, I love women, but they’re extremely primitive, they’re basic, they’re not that hard to understand,” Carlson said in one October 2007 clip. “And one of the things they hate more than anything is weakness in a man”
Carlson — who has shed advertisers after saying certain immigrants made America “poorer and dirtier” — issued a statement Sunday night, downplaying the seriousness of his comments and, like Pirro, did not apologize.
“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago,” Carlson said in a statement. “Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”
Fox News did not comment on Carlson’s old statements.
Carlson’s view of the c-word — which he used in one of the audio clips to describe Martha Stewart’s daughter Alexis in 2006 — was different last year, when he was highly critical of Samantha Bee, who used the same term on her TBS show Full Frontal last year to describe Ivanka Trump.
“That one word that [Bee] used. I don’t know any man who uses that word because it is kind of the one word that is actually degrading,” Carlson said at the time.
The controversy over Pirro and Carlson comes after the Democratic National Committee decided to exclude Fox News from hosting any primary debates after a report in The New Yorker alleged an “inappropriate relationship” between Trump and Fox News.