In Unusual Move, Fox News Condemns Jeanine Pirro’s Remarks on Muslim Legislator

In an unusual reproach, Fox News criticized one of its star personalities, Jeanine Pirro, after the host questioned if a Muslim lawmaker’s religious beliefs undermined her loyalty to the United States.

Ms. Pirro, the prosecutor turned politician turned TV host who is close to President Trump, had attacked Representative Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democrat, in the opening remarks of her weekend show, “Justice With Judge Jeanine.”

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

Her comments were widely condemned as prejudiced, including by a Fox News producer, Hufsa Kamal, who wrote to Ms. Pirro on Twitter: “can you stop spreading this false narrative that somehow Muslims hate America or women who wear a hijab aren’t American enough? You have Muslims working at the same network you do, including myself.”

Fox News responded on Sunday, about 24 hours after Ms. Pirro’s show was aired. “We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Representative Ilhan Omar. They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly,” the network said in a statement.

Ms. Pirro, whose fiery monologues have helped her show’s ratings, sounded less contrite. “I’ve seen a lot of comments about my opening statement from Saturday night’s show and I did not call Representative Omar un-American,” she wrote in a separate 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.” Ms. Omar caused an uproar in Washington recently after making remarks in Congress that were attacked as anti-Semitic, leading the House to pass a resolution last week condemning intolerance.

Fox News has long grappled with fallout from incendiary remarks by its commentators — in 2017, Ms. Pirro was criticizing for saying that prosecutors investigating Mr. Trump “need to be taken out in cuffs.” Another host, Laura Ingraham, lost advertisers after she mocked students who survived the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, and after she referred to American facilities holding immigrant children as “essentially summer camps.”

Still, the network has faced unusually sharp scrutiny over the past week, starting with an article in The New Yorker that chronicled the close-knit relationship between Mr. Trump’s inner circle and Fox News personnel. One network alumnus in the White House, the deputy chief of staff Bill Shine, resigned from his position on Friday after a brief, bumpy tenure.

Late Sunday, another Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, came under fire for remarks about women and underage marriage that he made about a decade ago on a shock-jock radio program. His comments were exhumed by Media Matters for America, a left-wing advocacy group that closely follows Fox News.

In excerpts published by Media Matters, Mr. Carlson, calling into the “Bubba the Love Sponge” show, mused in 2006 that “arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 27-year-old is not the same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her.” He also used lewd language to describe Alexis Stewart, the daughter of Martha Stewart, and said, “I just wanted to give her the spanking she so desperately needs.”

Mr. Carlson, a provocateur who enjoys flouting notions of political correctness, has been called out for misogynist comments before. In 2015, he defended his brother after an email exchange showed his brother making deeply sexist remarks about a female aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York.

In a statement, Mr. Carlson did not apologize for his “Bubba” comments.

“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago,” Mr. Carlson wrote. “Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

Fox News is not the only cable news network that has had to grapple with a star anchor’s troubling past remarks.

Joy-Ann Reid, the MSNBC host, apologized last year after revelations that she had published numerous homophobic posts and jokes on a blog that is now defunct. She also claimed without evidence that the homophobic remarks had been inserted by hackers intent on harming her reputation. MSNBC did not discipline Ms. Reid.


more recommended stories

  • $1 Billion for Mental Health: The Reality of de Blasio’s ‘Revolutionary’ Plan

    [What you need to know to.

  • The Fight to Tame a Swelling River With Dams That May Be Outmatched by Climate Change

    Want climate news in your inbox?.

  • ‘Florida Is Tired of Being a Cheap Date’: Andrew Gillum Wants to Help Democrats Win in 2020

    Andrew Gillum has more free time.

  • Report Says U.S. Airstrikes Have Killed 14 Civilians in Somalia

    WASHINGTON — For years, the Pentagon.

  • On C-Span’s 40th Anniversary, a Top Executive Reflects on Its Political Impact

    Forty years ago, C-Span went live.

  • Trump Renews Attacks on John McCain, Months After Senator’s Death

    WASHINGTON — Tucked between St. Patrick’s.

  • After 2 Crashes of New Boeing Jet, Pilot Training Now a Focus

    The chief executive of Boeing backed.

  • On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

    Meanwhile, candidates’ moves to the left.

  • In Beto O’Rourke’s Announcement, His Wife’s Silence Stands Out

    Beto O’Rourke, the charismatic Texas Democrat.

  • Mnuchin Vows to Protect Trump’s Privacy if Tax Returns Sought

    WASHINGTON — Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury.

  • Trump on Tech: Planes Are ‘Too Complex to Fly,’ and ‘What Is Digital?’

    WASHINGTON — He prefers Sharpies over.

  • Congress Warns Against Medicaid Cuts: ‘You Just Wait for the Firestorm’

    WASHINGTON — If President Trump allows.

  • ‘Airbnb Tax’ in N.J. Opens New Front in Battle Over Internet Economy

    [What you need to know to.

  • Netanyahu-Trump Partnership Is Stronger Than Ever. Are These Its Final Days?

    What was missing with Mr. Trump,.

  • New Images of North Korea Buildup Confront Trump’s Hopes for Disarmament

    WASHINGTON — President Trump was forced.

  • On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

    From the president’s checks to a.

  • Chelsea Manning Is Jailed for Refusing to Testify in WikiLeaks Case

    WASHINGTON — Chelsea Manning, the former.

  • When Foreign Leaders Send Presidents a Gift, Flattery is Usually a Theme

    Foreign officials also appear to have.

  • On Politics: Trade Deficit Hits Record $891 Billion

    • Trade talks between the United.

  • U.S. and E.U. Are Headed for a Food Fight Over Trade

    WASHINGTON — After a White House.

  • House’s Anti-Semitism Resolution Surfaces Generational Fight Over Ilhan Omar

    WASHINGTON — The decision by House.

  • Roger Stone Faces Questions Over Whether He Violated Gag Order

    The former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

  • On Politics: Behind the Failed Trump-Kim Summit

    President Trump made a bet that.

  • On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

    From Michael Cohen’s testimony to the.

  • Manafort’s Lawyers, Saying He Learned ‘Harsh Lesson,’ Seek Lenient Sentence

    WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Paul Manafort,.

  • On Politics: Trump Ordered Kushner’s Security Clearance

    • Mr. Trump declared on Thursday.

  • What to Watch For in Thursday’s G.D.P. Report

    After a monthlong delay because of.

  • Supreme Court Seems Ready to Allow Cross Honoring War Dead

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed.

  • Biden’s Family Is Urging Him to Run in 2020

    NEWARK, Del. — Former Vice President.

  • Paul Manafort’s Lawyers Argue He Has Been Unfairly ‘Vilified’ Before Sentencing

    WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Paul Manafort,.

  • How Lindsey Graham Went From Trump Skeptic to Trump Sidekick

    I asked Graham if he considered.

  • 40-Foot Cross Divides a Community and Prompts a Supreme Court Battle

    BLADENSBURG, Md. — In the back.