On Wednesday night, the crowd at President Trump’s rally in Greenville, North Carolina, launched into a “Send Her Back!” chant after the president took aim at Ilhan Omar, the Somalian-American congresswoman who he has targeted—along with other congresswomen of color—with racist taunts for days now.
The chants immediately sparked widespread backlash and outrage, including from some conservatives and Republicans. At the same time, however, hosts and personalities at Fox News quickly began formulating excuses and talking points to defend the president for basking in the racist chants he clearly fomented with his days of bigoted rhetoric.
After many of the below defenses were issued, however, the president provided his Fox pals an easy out, telling reporters Thursday afternoon that he “wasn’t happy” about the chant, saying that “it was quite a chant and I felt a little badly about it.”
“I was not happy with it, I disagree with it,” he added of the chant that was based off his own repeated attacks on the four women of color. “I didn’t say that, they did.”
One of the first ones to sound off Wednesday evening was Greg Gutfeld, co-host of weekday gabfest The Five and weekend show The Greg Gutfeld Show. Responding to conservative commentator Allahpundit, who said the chant was “pure mob insanity, led by the most powerful man on earth,” Gutfeld tweeted: “pure mob insanity? apparently, you’ve never been to a sporting event.” The likening of the racist chant to rallying cries heard at sporting events would be heard again from Fox News stars.
Shortly after the president’s rally, primetime host Laura Ingraham dismissed the chant as coming from a “small section of the crowd” before slamming the rest of the media for framing “the entire rally around this one section of the crowd’s reaction.” Complaining that this was similar to the media’s coverage of the constant “Lock Her Up” chants at Trump rallies, she then asked: “Are the media and the Democrats missing how many Americans feel about what they’re told about the way they should think from these four elected officials?”
Minutes after a segment Thursday morning outsourcing a defense of the chants to far-right media star Candace Owens, Fox & Friends First host Jillian Mele read from a top-notch propaganda script: “President Trump drawing cheers and chants, rallying a crowd of thousands in North Carolina. And the leftist media wasting no time slamming both him and the crowd.” She continued after a few clips of CNN and MSNBC anchors slamming the racist chant: “But guess what? New poll numbers out show voters really do want to put America first.”
Gutfeld’s comparison of the racist chant to a raucous sports crowd was picked up by his Five colleague Jesse Watters. Appearing Thursday morning on Fox & Friends, Watters said of the “Send her back!” chants: “They chant some pretty bad stuff at a football game. Politics is a tough sport.” He added another astonishing comparison: “Some Republicans chanted some things; some Democrats framed Trump for treason. I think you guys see the difference.”
During the same Fox & Friends broadcast that featured Watters comparing the chants to a football crowd, co-host Brian Kilmeade took a similar tack as Ingraham did the night before. “It gives MSNBC and CNN something to focus on as opposed to a raucous speech that not any of the 24 [Democratic candidates] could possibly have done,” he huffed after guest Guy Benson said he “wasn’t a fan” of the chants.
Fox Nation host Todd Starnes—who has made a name for himself as a Christian conservative commentator—wrote on Fox’s website that the “crowd’s reaction was an appropriate response to the incessant un-American rage spewing from the mouth of Rep. Omar.” He added: “Last night was a political rally—not a church service.”