Fox’s Pete Hegseth – a guy who engineered pardons for war criminals over the objections of the U.S. military – tried to smear the venerable Rep. James Clyburn (Black D–SC) as some kind of threat to law-abiding America.
Hegseth, you may recall, successfully persuaded Donald Trump to toss aside the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which had tried and convicted SEAL Eddie Gallagher and Army Lt. Clint Lorance. Yes, that Hegseth held himself up as some kind of lover of the law and did his best to paint the 80-year-old majority whip, who has served in Congress since 1993, as a threat to law and order.
Clyburn ostensibly appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss Hurricane Isaias heading toward his state and Joe Biden’s VP pick. But Hegseth deliberately sandbagged him with pre-prepared, misleading questions about federal agents in Portland, Oregon, a city on the other side of the country from Clyburn.
HEGSETH: Congressman, as you know, over the last couple of months, we’ve seen riots in Portland. Thankfully, the last couple nights, the state police there have effectively been able to help and protect the federal courthouse. Before that, President Trump made it clear we’re gonna send federal agents, law enforcement officers there, to protect federal property as necessary.
Recently, you made comments comparing those federal officers to the Gestapo. Why would you make such a comparison, when what they’re doing is their job, to protect federal property? Is that rhetoric not unhelpful as we’re trying to make sure the streets are safe in a place like Portland?
FACT CHECK: If Hegseth really cared about safe streets in Portland, he would have pointed out that federal agents exacerbated the unrest there and that the violence subsided once they withdrew.
After some back-and-forth about what Clyburn actually had said, he responded that the deployment of federal agents reminded him “very much of what I saw in Anniston, Alabama, back in the ’60s, what I saw on the Edmund Pettus Bridge back in the ’60s, where state-sponsored and supported terrorism was visited upon people who were protesting peacefully.”
“We all honor the peaceful protests of the 1960s,” Hegseth said dubiously. “Are you comparing the violence against law enforcement today, which is clear and, obviously, it’s right there before all of us, and the defensive measures law enforcement has to take? Everyone’s for peaceful protests. They’re burning bibles in Portland instead of holding them on the bridge like the peaceful protesters did in the 1960s.”
Yeah, this guy who wanted a pardon for Army Lt. Clint Lorance, who ordered members of his platoon to shoot at unarmed Afghan men, killing two; and SEAL Eddie Gallagher, accused of murdering a teenage ISIS fighter and shooting at Iraqi civilians, and convicted of posing with a photo with the corpse of the teenage captive, wants us to believe he’s such a rules-follower that he can’t stomach a protester burning a bible.
Clyburn said he didn’t know about bibles being burnt but noted that it had nothing to do with burning down a federal building. He also said, respectfully, “Maybe you all know something I don’t know. What federal building has been under threat? Who attempted to burn the federal building?”
Hegseth only paid lip service to respect in his reply.
HEGSETH: With all due respect, Congressman, you may not, may be watching other networks. It’s been fireworks, Molotov cocktails, explosions, attacks at officers night after night after night. Look at the precinct in Minneapolis that was burned by rioters, that started a lot of this.
Ultimately, we've seen violence against law enforcement. We can’t just deny it. Are they supposed to not defend themselves and defend federal property?
At that point, Clyburn caught on and did what I believe every Democrat should do on Fox News, especially when a host tries to pull a gotcha: He reframed and reclaimed the narrative.
CLYBURN: Look, they do defend themselves and I do defend them as well. But I don’t defend pretenders. We saw in Minneapolis a guy dressed up as if he were black, all in black, but knocking out windows.
When they arrested him, when they found out he’s a white supremacist, this guy, disguising himself, and that’s what’s going on all over. I’ve seen these movements.
Look, I was in these movements back in the 60s. I walked right alongside John Lewis, and everybody else, and I can tell you we never rioted but there was rioting going on: “Burn, baby, burn” was not us, somebody else. Insurgents came in, pretenders came in. They started that in order to subvert the movement and that’s what’s going on here. Black Lives Matter will not ever. People connected to that won’t burn down any buildings but the people who are trying to incite stuff, the pretenders, not protesters, but pretenders will do anything.
Now, you saw that on the camera yourselves and you should have reported it. Other places did. White supremacists -
Suddenly, Fox & Friends was all out of time.
Cohost Jedediah Bila interrupted to say sweetly, “Congressman, thank you so much for being here today. Unfortunately, we’re out of time but we thank you so much for being here today,” as if she had nothing to do with the deliberate effort to besmirch him.
As you can see in the image above, Hegseth grinned maliciously. That was right before he added, “Thank you, sir.”
You can watch Fox News try to vilify a senior Black congressman below, from the August 2, 2020 Fox & Friends.
(H/T reader Eric Jefferson)