- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 16, 2020

Fox News personalities spoke out Wednesday against measures intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and offered praise for protesters in Michigan who defied them.

Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro and Laura Ingraham are among Fox News hosts who applauded demonstrators for protesting a stay-at-home order imposed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Their laudatory reactions came after thousands of people participated in a demonstration held in Lansing, the state capital, to rally against the Democrat’s restrictive order.

Mr. Carlson, the host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” called the governor’s order “mindless and authoritarian” prior to expressing his gratitude to an organizer of the protest.

“Thank you for coming on tonight, and thank you for exercising your constitutionally protected rights as an American. Bless you,” Mr. Carlson said on his show.



Ms. Pirro, the host of “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” similarly criticized stay-at-home orders imposed in Michigan and elsewhere while appearing on the Fox News program “Hannity.”

“They want to keep us locked in our homes. They want to keep us away from churches and synagogues. They want to make sure we don’t go back to work. They don’t get it. The American spirit is too strong and Americans are not going to take it. And what happened in Lansing today? God bless them, it’s going to happen all over the country,” said Ms. Pirro.

Ms. Ingraham, the host of “The Ingraham Angle,” offered praise for the protesters on social media, meanwhile. She shared a picture from her Twitter account showing a convoy of vehicles heading to Lansing along with the caption: “Time to get your freedom back.”

She also questioned whether residents of other states subjected to similar stay-at-home orders “will stand for their right to work, travel, assemble, socialize and worship.”

Organizers of the Lansing protest, dubbed “Operation Gridlock,” had encouraged Michiganders to defy Ms. Whitmer’s order by driving around the state Capitol and jamming traffic.

Several protesters were also seen rallying outside of their vehicles in proximity to one another, violating social distancing guidelines meant to mitigate the outbreak.

More than 640,000 cases of COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the coronavirus, have been confirmed across the U.S, according to Johns Hopkins University.

A vast majority of states have accordingly issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders to keep COVID-19 from spreading, subjecting roughly 95% of Americans to the restrictions.

Fox News previously faced scrutiny after some of the right-wing network’s commentators accused Democrats of weaponizing the coronavirus pandemic against President Trump.

Those comments subsequently caused the nonprofit Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics to file a lawsuit last week alleging Fox News acted recklessly with its reporting of the outbreak.

Lily Fu Claffee, general counsel for the network, has since responded to the lawsuit by arguing that Fox News is protected by the Constitution’s right to freedom of speech.

The Media Matters for America watchdog group first reported about the Fox News hosts praising the protesters.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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