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In a rare rebuke of a high-profile host, Fox News on Sunday night came out strongly against the comments made a day earlier by host Jeanine Pirro about Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
“We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” the network said in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter. “They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”
Pirro, who hosts a Saturday night show that is a favorite of President Donald Trump, had drawn backlash for saying that Rep. Omar is “Sharia-compliant” and has practiced “Sharia-adherence behavior” by wearing a hijab. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which is antithetical to the U.S. Constitution?” she asked.
The host attempted to address the criticism in her own statement on Sunday night. “I’ve seen a lot of comments about my opening statement from Saturday night’s show and I did not call Rep. Omar un-American,” she said. “My intention was to ask a question and start a debate, but of course because one is Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution. I invite Rep. Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”
On Monday, Omar took to Twitter to thank Fox News for condemning Pirro’s commentary. “Thank you, @FoxNews,” she wrote. “No one’s commitment to our constitution should be questioned because of their faith or country of birth.”
Pirro’s commentary even drew criticism from one of her colleagues at the network, a producer for Bret Baier’s news show. “@JudgeJeanine can you stop spreading this false narrative that somehow Muslims hate America or women who wear a hijab aren’t American enough?” associate producer Hufsa Kamal wrote. “You have Muslims working at the same network you do, including myself. K thx.”
Not unlike its cable news competitors, which are hesitant to call out its stars, it’s unusual for Fox News to directly condemn a high-profile host like Pirro.
The last time it happened was in November, when the network dinged both Pirro and Sean Hannity for appearing onstage with President Trump at a Make America Great Again campaign rally. “Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” the network said at the time. “We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight and we are extremely proud of their work. This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed.”
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