The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles joined other conservative pundits and Fox News personalities in openly attacking 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg following her fiery speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Monday, calling the teenager a “mentally ill Swedish child.”
In the wake of Friday’s youth-led Climate Strike, Thunberg blasted U.N. leaders, striking a defiant and angry tone.
“For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away?” Thunberg said. “Because if you really understood the situation and went on failing to act, you would be evil, and that I refuse to believe.”
Appearing on Fox News’ The Story on Monday evening, Knowles joined anchor Harris Faulkner and liberal commentator Christopher Hahn to discuss Monday’s climate protests across the nation as well as Thunberg’s speech. Knowles immediately went after the young climate activist.
“If it were about science it would be led by scientists rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left,” Knowles said, prompting Faulkner to ask Hahn to respond since he had a “visceral reaction” to the right-wing talker’s comments.
“Yeah, I mean, you’re a grown man and you’re attacking a child—shame on you,” the liberal pundit said. Knowles insisted he was not attacking Thunberg but rather her parents and liberals.
“Relax, skinny boy, I got this,” Hahn shouted. “OK? You’re attacking a child, you’re a grown man!”
As Hahn continued to demand that Knowles “take it back,” the conservative podcaster stood by his remarks, repeating his claim that Thunberg is “mentally ill” while accusing the left of “exploiting a girl with many mental illnesses.” (For the record, Thunberg has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, something she has called her “superpower.”)
The two went back and forth over Knowles’ attack on Thunberg. Faulkner, meanwhile, did not directly address Knowles’ comments, instead refocusing the conversation on another topic.
A Fox News spokesperson provided the following statement to The Daily Beast on Knowles’ remarks: “The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on The Story tonight was disgraceful—we apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers.”
Fox News also told The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr that it has no plans to book Knowles again as a guest.
Throughout the day on Monday, conservatives on television and social media mocked and belittled the young climate activist.
A popular right-wing Twitter troll said Thunberg needed a “spanking,” while the editor-in-chief of The Federalist quipped that Thunberg’s emergence showed that we “need to have a national conversation about the rising problem of arrogant teenage Swedes.”
On Fox & Friends, guest Marc Morano declared that Thunberg was “instilling fear in millions of kids.” Later on Monday, host Greg Gutfeld—who famously has failed to read articles to prepare for television segments—criticized Thunberg’s parents for allowing her to speak out publicly about climate change, saying kids know “nothing about nuclear energy or the costs of solar or wind power.”
“I feel bad for her,” he said, adding that co-host Juan Williams would be “embarrassed” if his kid acted like Thunberg.
But the teen-bashing didn’t sit well with everyone on Fox News.
When Outnumbered guest Buck Sexton mocked the idea of asking Thunberg about other topics, like the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve, the show’s co-hosts immediately pushed back against his tone.
“No picking on children,” host Melissa Francis said.
“She’s a kid,” Dagen McDowell added.
A couple of hours after Knowles’ remarks, Fox News primetime host Laura Ingraham took her own dig at Thunberg by comparing the teenage climate activist to the Stephen King horror film Children of the Corn.
“I can’t wait for Stephen King’s sequel, Children of the Climate,” she said after playing a clip from the movie.
Late on Monday night, meanwhile, all of the Twitter trolling and televised attacks reached its inevitable conclusion when President Trump took aim at Thunberg with a sarcastic tweet.
“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” he wrote while sharing video of her U.N. remarks. “So nice to see!”