Six days ago, The View’s Joy Behar made a joke about Vice President Mike Pence’s faith. Fox News has been in a full-on panic ever since, covering the overblown controversy more than 30 times over the past week.
“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you,” the comedian and co-host said on The View last Tuesday. “That’s called mental illness if I’m not correct. Hearing voices.”
Behar’s comments came after former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman spoke out against the vice president’s “extreme” religious views on Celebrity Big Brother. “I’m Christian, I love Jesus, but he thinks Jesus tells him to say things,” she said, telling her fellow contestants that Americans “would be begging for days of Trump back if Pence became president.”
Now, Pence has given his official response during an interview from the U.S.-Mexico border with Fox & Friends the Presidents’ Day morning. The vice president told co-host Ainsley Earhardt that he is “accustomed to criticism” but felt he “just couldn’t be silent” when he heard that a host on the the ABC show compared his faith to “mental illness.” He did not mention Behar by name.
“People of all different faith traditions, they cherish their faith in God,” Pence told Earhardt. “And to have ABC have a forum that spoke in such demeaning terms, I think it’s evidence of how out of touch some in the mainstream media are with the faith and values of the American people.”
The vice president’s comments to Fox come after he first addressed Behar’s joke last week during a sit down with Axios founder Mike Allen. In that interview, Pence called her “mental illness” line “an insult, not to me, but to the vast majority of the American people who, like me, cherish their faith.”
Back on the Fox & Friends couch, Brian Kilmeade was quick to point out that Oprah Winfrey said something very similar about God talking to her last week. “If God actually wanted me to run, wouldn’t God kind of tell me?” Winfrey said on 60 Minutes. “And I haven’t heard that.”
“Really? So is Oprah Winfrey also mentally ill?” Kilmeade asked.
Asked by The View moderator Whoopi Goldberg on Friday if she really believes Christians are “mentally ill,” Behar downplayed the seriousness of her remarks. “Of course not,” she said. “I don’t mean to offend people, but apparently I keep doing it. It was a joke. Comedians are in danger these days.”
For the record, Behar has been enthusiastic about the idea of Oprah 2020. Comparing Winfrey to Trump, she said on The View, “He doesn’t read a book and she has a book club. I mean, think about it!”