Fox News pulls Jeanine Pirro’s Saturday broadcast, fueling speculation about her future

March 17, 2019

Fox News pulls Jeanine Pirro’s Saturday broadcast, fueling speculation about her future aa440 / CCL

Conservative news host Jeanine Pirro’s future with the Fox News is in doubt after the former judge suggested on her show that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) decision to wear a hijab was “antithetical to the United States Constitution.”

Fox News executives haven’t hesitated to pull the plug on popular on-screen personalities in the past, and their decision to cancel a Saturday evening broadcast of Justice with Judge Jeanine doesn’t bode well for the network’s veteran anchor.

Veiled in secrecy

Citing “internal scheduling matters,” Fox News pulled Pirro’s show on Saturday in a last-minute decision that has been veiled in secrecy. In the 9 p.m. program’s place, the cable news outlet played a rerun episode of its documentary series Scandalous.

The decision to cancel Pirro’s Saturday show may have been precipitated by the Christchurch Mosque massacre in New Zealand, where 49 innocent Muslims were slaughtered in cold blood by an anti-Muslim “eco-fascist” the day before Pirro’s show was scheduled. Newspaper TV listings still included Justice in their Saturday evening lineups, but on-screen cable guides made note of the scheduling change.

It would have been the first time Pirro returned to her program since her controversial remarks on March 9 targeting Omar. Responding to repeated anti-Semitic outbursts from Omar — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to take appropriate action denouncing these hateful remarks — Pirro argued that the Minnesota Democrat’s bigotry was rooted in her extreme religious beliefs. She further questioned whether Omar’s true allegiance was to Sharia Law rather than the U.S. Constitution.

Fox News was quick to distance itself from Pirro’s remarks. “We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” the network explained in a press release. “They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”

Is this goodbye?

The network has stood by some of its flagship news anchors in recent months, even as their shows have hemorrhaged advertisers in response to controversial statements. After host Tucker Carlson stated that migrants from Mexico and Central America make the U.S. “poorer and dirtier,” Fox News stood by their newest star commentator.

Perhaps Fox News executives excused Carlson’s remarks because he was specifically pointing out how a migrant train left massive piles of garbage and human waste in its wake, or maybe they stood by their newest prime time star because of his success as the anchor of the second most-watched news program on cable television.

“We cannot and will not allow voices like Tucker Carlson to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts from the likes of Moveon.org, Media Matters and Sleeping Giants,” a Fox New official said in a statement as social justice advocates tried organizing boycotts to ruin Carlson’s show.

However, Fox News hasn’t always stood by its heavy hitters. The network canceled The O’Reilly Factor in 2017 after host Bill O’Reilly settled lawsuits against five different women accusing him of sexual harassment. O’Reilly joined Fox News in 1996, and hosted the top-rated show on cable news at the time of his firing.

Bob Beckel was also let go as the co-host of the daytime panel show The Five after he became addicted to painkillers. Although Beckel was eventually invited back onto the program in January 2017, he was fired again five months later for making an insensitive remark to a black employee.

Rumors continue to simmer around radio host Glenn Beck’s 2011 Fox News exodus. Beck says he left the network to “save his soul,” but a Fox News spokesman responded by explaining how “Advertisers fled his show,” prompting Beck’s exit.

Advertiser exodus

Speaking of advertisers, Pirro has lost her fair share since making her controversial comments earlier this month. The online marketplace Letgo and the pharmaceutical company Allergan announced that they were pulling their ads on Wednesday, and companies like NerdWallet, Novo Nordisk and GreatCall soon followed.

Is this the end for Pirro? Based on inconsistent past decisions by those at the top at Fox News, one guess really is as good as the next. 

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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.