Ultimately, whatever your viewing preferences, the most important media reactions to President Donald Trump's multiple public statements about the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, VA., last week are the ones airing on Fox News, for the simple reason that the president himself might actually see them. And on Wednesday morning, one of the president's favorite shows, Fox & Friends, played host to a truly remarkable sight: Fox News host Abby Huntsman equivocating about Charlottesville while one of her guests, Dr. Wendy Osefo, was in tears.
Huntsman started the segment simply enough, describing the controversy over Charlottesville and Confederate statues and memorials as a "hot-button issue" before asking Osefo what she thought. Osefo, who is black, responded with evident emotion about the "hatred" and "white supremacy" witnessed in the last several days:
The takedown of the Confederate soldier's monument in my home state of Durham, North Carolina, it's beyond a monument. This is about hatred, this is about white supremacy. And to have Heather Heyer killed on U.S. soil by Nazis, Deandre Harris beaten and bludgeoned by Nazis, this is not talking points here, this is not partisanship, this is human life. And as a mother, to hear the president of these United States not sit here and condemn what has happened, as a black woman, of two black boys, my heart bleeds.
Huntsman then addressed her other guest, a black GOP pundit named Gianno Caldwell, asking him a decidedly leading question predicated on the idea that "there are good people on both sides" of the Confederate monument debate ― in essence, the same basic tact Trump took in his fiercely criticized press conference on Tuesday.
"You know, I come today with a very heavy heart," Caldwell responded. "Last night I couldn't sleep at all, because President Trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country." His voice began to tremble as he continued, evidently overcome with emotion. "The very moral fabric in which we've made progress when it comes to race relations in America, he's failed us," Caldwell continued. "And it's very unfortunate that our president would say things like he did in that press conference yesterday, when he says 'well, there's good people on the side of the Nazis. They weren't all Nazis, they weren't all white supremacists.'"
Well Mr. President, good people don't pal around with Nazis and white supremacists. Maybe they don't consider themselves white supremacists and Nazis, but certainly they hold those views. This has become very troubling, and for anyone to come on any network and defend what President Trump said in his press conference yesterday is completely lost, and the potential to be morally bankrupt.
Huntsman interrupted when Caldwell said the words "morally bankrupt," saying "no." Caldwell's voice began to crack as he continued, while Osefo wiped her eyes.
"I am sorry, no, I believe that, and I'm being very honest. As someone who's been talking about these issues for a very long time, I'm sorry that this is where we are right now, and I hope that the president learns a lesson from his press conference yesterday. It's disturbing."
Huntsman then interjected, saying that "these are very sensitive topics," and that both of her guests had "every right" to come on-air and be "emotional" and "real." She plainly did not, however, like the direction of their takes, trying to redirect the conversation to the topic of Confederate statues.
Both Caldwell and Osefo flashed some looks of exasperation as Huntsman asked them whether removing the monuments was a "slippery slope."
In short, if you've got the time and the inclination, you should give the full video a look — Twitter users sure have, and many were outraged by Huntsman. It's one of the more uncomfortable and compelling examples of a cable news host ― in this case a conservative one ― coming up staggeringly tone-deaf in the face of a hugely emotional and moral story.