Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

Who is Defending Judge Jeanine’s Bigotry?

She faced almost no backlash for offensive remarks about Islam.
by Jim Swift
March 13, 2019
Who is Defending Judge Jeanine’s Bigotry?

It’s been a bad week for Fox News. Two of its well-known personalities are under fire for controversial remarks. Tucker Carlson’s come from the mid-to-late 2000s on a shock jock’s radio program; former judge Jeanine Pirro made hers on air during her show, Justice With Judge Jeanine.

Fox News was quick to condemn Ms. Pirro’s remarks, saying in a release:

But despite the corporate scolding, Pirro did not apologize for her remarks. Nor did Carlson. (Though he was—amazingly—not scolded by the Fox mothership.) Both should apologize. Neither will. Apologizing in the era of Trump is weakness. Doubling down or strategic silence or pivoting to whataboutism is hotness.

In a very real sense, Pirro is lucky. Carlson became a human shield for her as the media focused on his much more extensive remarks. With the liberal outrage mob fixated on his Bubba the Love Sponge appearances, a conservative outrage mob materialized to white knight for him.

But Pirro’s relative good fortune was also a market opportunity for a certain class of grifters to get noticed by standing up for Judge Jeanine.

First among them? Of course, it’s former Fox News contributor and artisanal business card maker, Sebastian Gorka.

Gorka brought Curt Schilling and Gregg Jarrett onto his Salem radio show to discuss. On it, Gorka defended Pirro, saying:

“She’s absolutely right. . . . The hijab is a requirement of the religion of Islam. It is part of Sharia law. Sharia law does not comport with the U.S. Constitution. Judge Jeanine, we have your back. Hold the line. You are speaking the truth.”

Next up was Charlie Kirk from Turning Point USA, who eschewed an affirmative defense in favor of whataboutism:

Bill O’Reilly came out of his semi-retirement to weigh in, too. Though he wasn’t defending Pirro so much as just asking questions, you guys!

Podcaster Wayne DuPree had this theory: Fox News was just throwing Pirro under the bus to get a Democratic presidential primary debate. (Does he really think the DNC is that cheap a date?)

VDARE vlogger Faith Goldy, who we wrote about last week, used this opportunity to posture for her fans and threatened to boycott Fox if they fired Pirro. If Faith Goldy is for you, who can be against you?

Jeff Kuhner, a morning drive host in Boston, likewise threatened to boycott Fox, suggesting Pirro did nothing wrong:

Dennis Michael Lynch, a far-right documentary filmmaker who briefly had presidential delusions, had this to say:

Author Montgomery Granger weighed in with a similar defense:

Actor Robert Davi took it up a notch and pivoted to video with his support:

Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer (no relation to Richard) ran with the common theme of Pirro is just asking questions:

Joe Pagliarulo, a talk show host in Texas, took a different tack: He suggested that anyone who thought Pirro’s remarks were an “attack” on Rep. Ilhan Omar was… not a journalist!

Last but not least, we have Jessie Jane Duff, a retired Marine who goes on Fox News from time to time. Her whataboutism defense included all the usual accoutrements, but had an extra special “they fight!” at the end.


Update (3/17/19): After reports surfaced that Jeanine Pirro was suspended by Fox News for two weeks, President Donald Trump tweeted a three tweet defense of Pirro:

After President Trump’s tweet, his son Eric also voiced support:

His wife, Lara Trump, joined him:

And Jeremy Frankel from the Daily Wire, chimed in, saying that the sick part in all of this is how Fox News “caved to the leftist mob.” (A view he’s held for a few days.)

Pirro’s supposed suspension did elicit some other defenses. Here’s an evangelical pastor, Mark Burns, who is most known for his support of President Trump:

Newsmax host John Cardillo:

The Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell:

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton went with a broad statement of support (complete with photo) rather than specifically defending Pirro’s remarks.

Pro-Trump editorial cartoonist Ben Garrison asked Fox News to #StoptheCensorship.

BlazeTV’s Chad Francis Prather is missing Jeanine Pirro’s “TRUTH.”

Of course, better late than never, it’s Candace Owens!

Author and Islam-critic Brigitte Gabriel encouraged her fans to contact Fox to stand with Pirro.

Failed Senate candidate Corey Stewart expressed his wish for her to return to the air soon. (After incorrectly suggesting that she’d been fired by Fox.)

Talker Mike Opelka went with a full whataboutism pose.

As did New York talk host Mark Simone.

Paul Joseph Watson, currently of InfoWars (he’s hanging his own conspiratorial shingle soon, we read), got straight to the point:

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from him, but The Mooch can be relied upon to be a team player.

From across the pond, British reality TV contestant Katie Hopkins made the suspension about a lack of loyalty.


Depressingly, not many conservatives were willing to criticize Pirro. There were some exceptions, including Guy Benson and Erick Erickson. And Fox News producer Hufsa Kamal, who is Muslim, criticized her on Twitter, saying: “@JudgeJeanine can you stop spreading this false narrative that somehow Muslims hate America or women who wear a hijab aren’t American enough? You have Muslims working at the same network you do, including myself. K thx.”

But look at the reaction Kamal got and you can understand why conservatives were reluctant to put themselves out there: Kamal received such a deluge of negative feedback from the right that she had to lock her Twitter account.

And conservatives also probably realized that criticizing Pirro wouldn’t have had any real effect. Seventy-two hours from now, everyone will have forgotten that Pirro latest slip. Just as they’ve forgotten about her other controversial remarks about Islam, her defamation lawsuit, or the fact that she’s pro-choice.

Just as long as she’s on the right side of the Trump issue, that’s all that matters.

Jim Swift

Jim Swift is a senior editor at The Bulwark.