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A Fox News spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday night that the network has “no plans” to book conservative podcast host Michael Knowles as a guest again after he referred to 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg as a “mentally ill Swedish child.”
Knowles, who hosts The Michael Knowles Show for The Daily Wire, made the remark during a Monday night news program on Fox News. After pushback from progressive guest Chris Hahn, Knowles said that Thunberg has “many mental illnesses,” including depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Thunberg, who sailed to New York City to speak at the United Nations General Assembly about the urgency of climate change, talks openly about having Asperger syndrome, which she calls her “superpower.”
“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,” the network said in a statement, adding that Knowles won’t be back as a guest. (Anchor Harris Faulkner did not immediately rebut the comment.)
Several groups that advocate for those living with autism spoke out against Knowles’ comments in statements to THR.
“To intentionally demean any person, regardless of neurodiversity, is both cruel and wrong,” the Autism Society said in a statement. “Certainly some might disagree with Ms. Thunberg on policy issues, but it is shameful to issue a derogatory statement to a youth advocate.”
“It’s absolutely unconscionable to attack someone for their disability, especially when that person is a child,” said Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “History is full of autistic people and people with other cognitive disabilities who were and are compelling, credible activists and leaders. Greta is a part of that tradition, and our community is lucky to have her. Period.”
“Autism is not an illness and, in fact, we consider neurodiversity to be something worth celebrating,” said Dania Jekel, executive director of the Asperger/Autism Network. “At AANE, we know that individuals on the autism spectrum can use their strengths to make outstanding contributions to society because we see it everyday with our community members. There are many people like Greta in our world, and we hope that her transparency about her Asperger diagnosis will help promote understanding and acceptance of individuals on the autism spectrum.”
Jekel continued: “Finally, all people, regardless of any mental health challenges they may face, should be treated with respect and given an opportunity to express their views. Mental health alone is not cause for discrediting a person’s knowledge of a particular subject.
Knowles has made several previous appearances on Fox News. Later on Monday night, Fox News opinion host Laura Ingraham compared Thunberg to a character in the film The Children of the Corn.
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