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Fox News pulls Jeanine Pirro’s program after hijab remarks

This combination photo shows Fox News host Jeanine Pirro at the HBO Documentary Series premiere of “
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro this month questioned Rep. Ilhan Omar’s wearing a hijab.
(Associated Press)

Fox News pulled Saturday’s episode of conservative commentator Jeanine Pirro’s program after publicly admonishing her for on-air comments she made last week about a Muslim congresswoman’s hijab.

“Justice With Judge Jeanine” — which airs Saturdays at 6 p.m. Pacific and is typically the most watched cable news program on the night — was replaced with a repeat airing of the documentary series “Scandalous: The Trial of William Kennedy Smith,” according to the Fox News schedule.

A representative for Fox News did not comment on Pirro’s status or the reason for the programming change. But the switch appeared to be related to Pirro’s March 9 comment about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who wears a hijab, a traditional head covering worn by Muslim women.

“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 the scripted opening of her March 9 program that dealt with Omar, a popular target of conservative pundits since she entered Congress.

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Omar, an immigrant from Somalia, stirred public outrage over tweets she made regarding U.S. support of Israel that were interpreted as anti-Semitic.

Fox News, which typically stands by its hosts when they make controversial statements, issued a public rebuke of Pirro over the comments about Omar.

“We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” Fox News said in a statement. “They do not reflect those of the network, and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”

At least four advertisers — personal finance company NerdWallet, online marketplace Letgo and drugmakers Allergan and NovoNordisk — have said they have suspended their sponsorship of Pirro’s program because of her remarks about Omar.

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Fox News is already dealing with advertiser avoidance in two of its nightly prime-time programs, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “The Ingraham Angle.”

Carlson was targeted by liberal media watchdog groups late last year after he said immigrants made the U.S. “poorer and dirtier and more divided.” He has recently come under fire for comments that many have condemned as misogynistic, racist and homophobic that he made on a comedic radio program.

“Ingraham Angle” host Laura Ingraham lost many of her sponsors last year after joking on Twitter about Parkland, Fla., high school shooting survivor David Hogg being rejected by several colleges.

Pirro did not apologize for her remarks, which she said were not intended to question Omar’s patriotism.

“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,” Pirro said in a statement. “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 anytime to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”

Pirro received support from President Trump in a series of early Sunday morning tweets. Trump has appeared on Pirro’s program and is a regular viewer.

“Bring back @Judge Jeanine Pirro,” Trump said. “The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well...”

stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

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Twitter: @SteveBattaglio


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