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Donald Trump’s outrageous attacks on Democratic congresswomen of color have pulled the mainstream media back into an awkward dance around how to describe a racist president.
Not Fox News. To hear that network’s analysts and guests tell it, it’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the other three members of the progressive “squad” who are the real bigots.
“We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning. “They hate Israel. They hate our own country.”
“They’re anti-Semitic,” he added seconds later, for good measure. “They’re anti-America.”
And Trump, an avid “Fox & Friends” fan, tweeted them out verbatim soon afterward to his 61.9 million followers.
The comments largely mimicked the president’s own criticisms of Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib over the weekend, when he unleashed a Twitter rant telling the women to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” followed Sunday night by tweets calling them “disgraceful.” He tripled down in the White House Rose Garden on Monday afternoon, saying that they hate America “with a passion.”
So goes the pro-Trump media feedback loop.
Fox News and other Trump-friendly media organs have obsessively portrayed the freshman lawmakers of color as central figures in the culture war. Last week, Tucker Carlson made Omar the focus of not one but two monologues about how liberals should pipe down with the complaints of racism and acknowledge American generosity toward immigrants.
“Nothing they say on the subject of race is sincere,” Carlson said last Wednesday. “It's all a hustle designed to get them what they want.”
Todd Starnes, a host on the subscription streaming service Fox Nation, echoed Carlson’s charge that Omar and her allies despise the country on Friday.
“As for Congresswoman Omar and other immigrants who find that America, well, just doesn’t meet their standards of living, might I suggest this: How about a one-way plane ticket to whatever third-world hellhole you came from?” Starnes said. “And don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.”
While Omar is a Somali refugee, the three other insurgent Democrats were born in the U.S. Together, they comprise a vocal core of an insurgent left wing that has repeatedly challenged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They also tend to rub white nationalists the wrong way.
Trump’s attacks on this group momentarily united Democratic factions around a common enemy. And mainstream media coverage — while largely using euphemisms for racism — overwhelmingly condemned them.
A few voices on Fox News similarly called out Trump, including contributor Jessica Tarlov’s suggestion that “this is the next round of birtherism.”
But most of the discussion revolved around the politics of it all: Did the president throw House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a lifeline by interrupting a Dems-in-dissarray news cycle? Or was he channeling a fear — justified or not — of progressives who are out of step with the middle of the country?
Fox contributor David Avella, chairman of the Republican organization GOPAC, erred on the side of self-victimization. “Many Democrats say things that are far more hateful toward the president of the United States," he said.
Cover: President Donald Trump accompanied by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General Bill Barr, announces his administration's effort to gain citizenship data during the 2020 census at an event in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)(Sipa via AP Images)