Fox News guest Heather MacDonald brushed off reports from numerous former African-American cadets that they had been subject to racist taunts and N-word slurs while attending West Point, suggesting that more “context” was needed to understand the incidents and that could have been examples of “hazing.”
On the Friday night edition of Fox News at Night, host Shannon Bream discussed with MacDonald the United States Military Academy’s recent decision to review its honor code to better address racism, a move that has been decried by conservatives as another example of “cancel culture.”
But Bream pointed to a recent Washington Post story about a letter signed by nine recent USMA graduates, who said they had the target of racist jokes and stereotypes, including being called the N-word, while they attended the school.
“According to this letter signed by recent graduates, by not rooting out racism that ‘saturates its history,’ the officers said, ‘West Point ultimately fails to produce leaders of character equipped to lead diverse organizations,’” Bream read, quoting from the Post piece. “Heather, this sounds like it has some legitimate concerns.”
“I’m not certain about that, Shannon. I would like to know the context,” MacDonald said of the former cadets’ claims. “These cadets are hazing each other all the time, and there’s just a fact of the matter that there is no institutional racism in the military or at West Point.”
“The military is absolutely determined to bring as many people of color into its higher ranks as possible,” MacDonald said. “You are likely to get promoted at an accelerated rate if you are a person of color.”
That claim is contradicted by a 2019 Congressional Research Service study of diversity in the military that noted the Defense Department’s “strategic plan does not outline targets or quotas for the recruitment, retention, or promotion of historically underrepresented demographic groups.” In addition, there is little data suggesting minorities benefit from faster promotions in practice, although, in a few cases, they appear to be promoted at slower rates than their cohort.
A 2014 study of Air Force promotion rates found no evidence of differential rates of promotion by race/ethnicity for approximately 93% of the cases observed, suggesting overall fairness in the promotion system. However, where disparities existed, whites had more favorable outcomes than African Americans or Hispanics with similar characteristics. The authors of the study found that career success is cumulative and that racial and ethnic minority officers, on average, were less likely to have achieved the early career milestones that are correlated with improved promotion prospects.
“West Point is like every mainstream institution today, which is trying as hard as it possibly can to hire and promote as many underrepresented minorities as possible,” MacDonald said. “We have to start beating back this lie, Shannon, that there is systemic racism in this country because that is simply not the case. But as long as that remains the dominant narrative, the left wins. And it is undoing meritocratic standard in every institution that we’ve got.”
Fox News’ Hannity scored the best ratings in cable news on Thursday, thanks to a call-in interview with President Donald Trump. That helped the network handily win primetime and take first in total day audience as well.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News topped its CNN and MSNBC rivals in the 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. daypart in both total viewers and those in the coveted 25 – 54 age demographic. For the total sales day, Fox News averaged 2.11 million viewers overall and 371,000 in the demo, besting CNN’s 1.16 million and 301,000 and MSNBC’s 1.78 million and 253,000, respectively.
At 4:00 p.m., the ongoing ratings battle stayed true to form, as MSNBC’s Deadline: White House continued its success, taking the time-slot with 2.20 million overall viewers. That outdistanced Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, which pulled in 1.69 million, and CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, which trailed with 1.36 million total viewers. Among A25 – 54 viewers, however, CNN took first during the hour with 287,000, edging out Fox’s 270,000 and MSNBC’s 250,000.
In primetime, Fox soared to four million in overall viewers on Thursday and 725,000 in the demo, more than double CNN’s total primetime figure of 1.61 million and well above MSNBC’s 2.90 million viewers. Among the key demo, Fox hit 725,000 viewers, far above CNN’s 458,000 and MSNBC’s 410,000. Fox’s big win was paced by its across-the-board sweep of all three hours of primetime, with its 9:00 p.m. flagship show topping all of cable news, powering to 4.47 million overall viewers and 835,000 in the demo thanks to its lengthy presidential interview. And Hannity‘s interview subject also noticed his interviewer’s big ratings win on Thursday, tweeting out his congratulations for the Fox News host’s victory on Friday night.
The top writer for Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight has reportedly resigned after it was discovered that he had been posting viciously racist, sexist, and homophobic comments on an online forum using a pseudonym.
According to a report from CNN’s Oliver Darcy, Blake Neff had been working as the lead writer for the Fox show since 2016 after coming from the conservative website The Daily Caller, which was co-founded by Carlson and where Neff wrote more than 2,000 posts. Neff resigned from the network on Friday, according to a network spokesperson, and a check of Neff’s Twitter account on Friday evening found that it had been deleted.
Neff’s abrupt departure came after CNN, via an anonymous tipster, discovered years of posts by Neff on the message board AutoAdmit, in which the former Fox writer posted numerous bigoted and derogatory comments about women, Black, Asian, and LGBTQ people. Some of the racist posts authored by Neff came from as recently as two weeks ago.
“In a recent article in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff said, ‘Anything [Carlson is] reading off the teleprompter, the first draft was written by me.’” Darcy reported. “He also acknowledged the show’s influence, telling the magazine, ‘We’re very aware that we do have that power to sway the conversation, so we try to use it responsibly.’”
Carlson’s show has been repeatedly accused of stokingracism and xenophobia, while claiming the threat of white supremacy is a “hoax.” Recently, advertisers have been fleeing the show to avoid being tied to his incendiary comments, even as his ratings have continued to place him at the top of cable news .
Notably, the CNN story found Neff’s personal vitriol was not sealed off from his work on Fox News. “There has still been at least some overlap between the forum and the show, including in recent weeks,” Darcy explained, in one such case, pointing out a recent controversy about Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy. “Neff wrote on the forum, ‘[I]t is your f***ing right as an American to wear whatever T-shirt you want, and hold whatever political views you want. Christ.’ The next night on his show, Carlson said, ‘And they can wear whatever shirts they want. You thought that was true. You thought that was your right as an American.’”
The Five erupted into a free-for-all on Friday when designated liberal co-host Juan Williams reminded viewers that Donald Trump had said some Mexican immigrants were “rapists” during his 2015 campaign kickoff speech.
As a conversation about so-called cancel culture wound to a close, Jeanine Pirrotried to confront Williams about the Goya boycott that began trending online on Thursday after that company’s CEO publicly praised the president at the White House.
“Look, the left is so focused on trashing people on the right that they don’t care that the people they presume to be on the right are helping poor people, hungry people, helping immigrants,” Pirro said. “Their hate is so dug in. I mean, are you comfortable with this? The right doesn’t do this to Obama. Trust me, a lot of people on the right did not like Obama. But this is like cancel, boycott and help them lose their job. Aren’t you uncomfortable with that?”
“I don’t like boycotts if you ask me, but we live in politically polarized times,” Williams responded before putting the food company boycott in a larger context. “If you are talking about who likes division, President Trump pushes buttons of division and polarization quite regularly. I think you’ll remember he started this campaign by going after Latin immigrants. He said Mexicans were rapist and thieves.”
After a beat, three of The Five pushed back as Williams kept talking.
“No, he didn’t say that…” Pirro said, vigorously shaking her head and talking over Williams.
Greg Gutfeld, who had been listening with his head down, starting smiling and shaking his head and chimed in: “No, he didn’t.”
And Jesse Watters, seeming to concede Trump’s actual words, jumped in to add as mitigating context a paraphrase of what the then-candidate had said next: “And some are good people.”
In his notorious 2016 campaign kickoff announcement, Trump said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best, they’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people who have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume ,are good people.” Trump had immediately tried to do damage control on his comments by claiming on Morning Joe that he was referring to the Mexican government, which he never specified. In addition, Trump doubled down on his 2015 smear three years later, referring to his infamous use of “rape” and claiming vindication when news reports had found women trying to passing through Mexico and ultimately immigrate to the U.S. had been frequent targets of sexual assault.
Pirro, still shaking her head, continued attacking Williams: “You know what…”
Williams shot back: “Of course, wait a second, of course he said ‘rapist.’ He used the very word ‘rapist.’ You don’t want to hear it but that is the truth!”
Pirro, still interrupting Williams, shouted back and the scene devolved into chaos.
Finally, Pirro relented and Williams finished his thought.
“Judge, judge, hold on, you’ve had your say, judge. Judge, is it so hard for you to listen? Here is the thing, judge, you have the opposite effect,” he said. “Guess what? Lots of people who like President Trump can start buying Goya foods if that’s what they want. Maybe they will like rice and beans smothered in hot sauce. I don’t know. But I’m just telling you we live in politically polarized time and we have a politically polarizing president.”
Pirro then equated Williams’ argument to that of domestic abusers, saying: “No, we don’t. [Trump] doesn’t push buttons. Batterers use that excuse all the time when they beat their wives.”