Report: Jeanine Pirro lands in ‘penalty box’ at Fox News for Ilhan Omar comments

March 18, 2019

Report: Jeanine Pirro lands in ‘penalty box’ at Fox News for Ilhan Omar comments Michael Vadon / CCL

Judge Jeanine is in the “penalty box.”

The outspoken Fox News host has been suspended for up to two weeks after network officials, under pressure from the liberal left and advertisers alike, determined that her recent comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), were simply a bridge too far. However, she isn’t losing her job.

Pirro’s suspension quickly drew strong reactions, including one from President Trump, who called on Fox to stand by Pirro and Tucker Carlson. Carlson is facing a separate pressure campaign by the left for him to be fired over offensive radio comments from a decade ago.

Judge Jeanine suspended by Fox

When Justice with Judge Jeanine didn’t air Saturday night, there was little doubt as to why. The Fox host has been under fire over  a controversial monologue in which she questioned Omar’s loyalty to the United States Constitution. Omar has been under fire recently for anti-Semitic comments, but the Democrats passed on an opportunity to formally and specifically rebuke her.

“Think about it. Omar wears a hijab. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?” Pirro said in a March 9 monologue.

Like Carlson, Pirro struck a defiant tone as she faced pushback over the comments, saying that her remarks were meant to prompt debate. But unlike Carlson, Pirro could not depend on the support of her network, which immediately condemned her comments, saying they “do not reflect those of the network.”

Pirro began losing advertisers from a left-wing boycott last week, and now, the network appears to have taken formal measures to punish the errant host. Brian Stelter of CNN’s Reliable Sources reported Sunday that Pirro’s show had been suspended for one to two weeks and that the host had been placed in the “penalty box” but not fired.

Justice with Judge Jeanine was replaced in the Saturday lineup by an episode of the documentary Scandalous.  Fox would not comment on “internal scheduling matters” when asked by media outlets for an explanation. Pirro’s show does not appear in Fox’s schedule for the upcoming weekend, and it’s not clear exactly when she will return.

Contrast with Carlson

Pirro has not enjoyed the same treatment as Tucker Carlson, who faced no apparent discipline from Fox after he refused to apologize over offensive comments unearthed by left-wing group Media Matters for America that he made from 2006 to 2011 on a shock jock radio show hosted by “Bubba the Love Sponge.” Carlson’s comments included remarks that women are “primitive” and Iraqis are “semi-literate primitive monkeys.”

Reacting to the Media Matters search-and-destroy campaign against him in a scorching monologue last week, Carlson vowed that he and Fox would “never bow to the mob, ever, no matter what.”

Fox said that they would not tolerate censorship of Carlson over the shock jock comments, stating, “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.” The network has stood by Carlson throughout pressure campaigns against him by left-wing groups since the fall, when he was targeted over comments that immigration makes the country “poorer” and “dirtier.”

Trump speaks out

Supporters of Carlson and Pirro argue that they are both the victims of left-wing censorship. However, there are differences between the two cases. Carlson’s comments were dug up by opposition researchers working for an organization with a long-standing personal grudge against Fox, and they date from years ago when he worked for MSNBC. Pirro’s comments are recent, and she made them on air at Fox.

What Pirro and Carlson do have in common is that they are the targets of pressure campaigns organized by the left with the apparent purpose of shutting them down, and each has lost advertisers in the last week. Unsurprisingly, the controversies have attracted the attention of the most powerful Fox fan in the world, who urged the network to show courage when it comes to Judge Jeanine, tweeting:

Trump also opined: “Fox must stay strong and fight back with vigor. Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them. Be strong & prosper, be weak & die!”

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.