The hosts of Fox & Friends waited until the final moments of their interview with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to bring up the comments he made about slavery and The New York Times’ ‘1619 Project’ over the weekend. Cotton used the opportunity to accuse them of spreading “fake news.”
“Senator Tom Cotton, you’re in the eye of the storm, you like to take on red-hot issues, including ‘The 1619 Project,’” Brian Kilmeade said as the senator smiled awkwardly. He then quoted directly at length from Cotton’s interview with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country,” Cotton said in that interview. “As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”
After reading that quote aloud, all Kilmeade had to say was, “Some say that was insensitive.”
“Well, that is fake news, Brian,” Cotton replied, chuckling uncomfortably. “That is not what I said.”
“What I said is that many Founders believed that only with the Union and the Constitution could we put slavery on the path to its ultimate extinction,” the senator continued. He did not clarify whether he believed Fox or his local newspaper actually misquoted him at any point or if or if they were just cleaning up the comments after the fact.
“Of course slavery is an evil institution,” Cotton added, “in all its forms, at all times, in America’s past or around the world today.”
Somehow, there was a “but” coming.
“But the fundamental moral principle of America is right there in the Declaration: ‘All men are created equal,’” he said. “And the history of America is the long and sometimes difficult struggle to live up to that principle.”
“That’s a history we ought to be proud of, not the historical revisionism of ‘The 1619 Project,’ which wants to indoctrinate America’s kids and teach them to hate America,” Cotton continued, as Kilmeade’s co-host Steve Doocy could be seen typing on his phone. “To believe that America was founded not on human freedom, but on racism. To think that slavery was not an aberration, but the true heart of America.”
In response to Cotton’s comments, ‘The 1619 Project’s’ Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted over the weekend, “Were the Founders right or wrong, @TomCottonAR, when they called slavery a ‘necessary evil upon which the Union was built’? Because either you agree with their assessment of slavery as necessary or you admit they were lying and it was just an evil and dishonorable choice. Which?”
Cotton’s interview on Fox fell short of answering her question.