The focus of fiery discussion during Fox News Channel programs on Wednesday morning was the controversy over a rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia who wore a mask that resembled President Barack Obama and was banned from the event for life as a result.
The hosts of Fox & Friends stated that “presidents have been fodder for jokes before, and nothing happened to those people,” while a conservative guest on that morning's edition of America's Newsroom charged that liberals “believe you get to talk, and everyone else shuts up.”
Brian Kilmeade, a co-host of the early morning program, jokingly referred to the topic as “the most controversial rodeo clown story we've ever covered.”
Fellow co-host Gretchen Carlson then quoted the man at the center of the conflict as saying:
Hey, I know I’m a clown. He, Obama, is just running around acting like one, doesn’t know he is one.
Carlson added that the man in the clown suit said the president “might be run down by an angry bull,” which she said could be considered “a personal kind of a threat.”
However, guest co-host Peter Johnson, Jr., pointed out that the man has apologized in a Facebook post, where he stated he “never meant to offend or hurt anyone's feelings.”
After Carlson observed that “presidents have been fodder for jokes before, and nothing happened to those people,” Johnson stated that the Missouri chapter of the NAACP is calling for the Secret Service and the Department of Justice to investigate what they call an “incendiary event.”
The hosts then shared some emails they'd received from viewers, including a missive from Leslie in Florida, who said: “Any American should have the right to mock the president. … He isn’t our king or emperor.”
“If it had been a clown with a Bush or Reagan mask, nobody would have said a word about it!” Dennis in Ohio noted, while Charlotte from Oklahoma wrote that “I think we should respect the office of the president whether we voted for him or not.”
Kilmeade concluded the discussion by saying:
We know one thing for sure. Like it or not, there’s a clown at a Kinko’s right now writing up a resume, hoping to get another job.
The debate continued soon afterwards, when conservative radio talk show host Michael Graham faced off against Democratic strategist Zerlina Maxwell, with co-host Bill Hemmer as moderator of the discussion.
Graham dismissed the incident as “a joke,” while Maxwell charged that it instead encouraged violence against the Democratic occupant of the White House.
“Oh, my gosh! Somebody making fun of a president?” the conservative guest asked sarcastically. “That’s never happened before!”
“I’m so glad when Lincoln was president, there weren’t cartoons portraying him as an ape -- oh, wait! There were,” he continued. “Folks, it’s a joke. That’s all it was.”
“We’re not calling for a march on Washington, but it’s not funny,” Maxwell replied. “This president has received more threats than any president in American history.”
Graham then stated:
At a parade in the 1980s in Philadelphia, the guys who were sweeping up after the animals were wearing Reagan masks. They were scooping up horse poop in Reagan masks! I don’t remember a single reporter going: “Oh, my gosh! We made fun of the president.”
“You keep comparing it to presidents who have been shot, which is interesting,” Maxwell asserted. “I think there’s one standard. We shouldn’t do this with any president.
“You can disagree with his policies, but why are we mowing him down with a bull?” she asked. “Why are we cheering that?”
“There is only one difference: that is the double standard,” Graham answered. “You call for limiting speech because that is what the Left does. You don’t believe in free discourse. You don’t believe in free speech. You believe you get to talk, and everyone else shuts up.
“So W can be called on to be killed, and nobody cares,” he concluded.
As NewsBusters previously reported, the Wednesday edition of NBC's Today program covered the clown controversy extensively -- including a claim that the rodeo was “like a Klan rally” for criticizing the president -- while avoiding discussion of the fact that yet another key ObamaCare mandate had been delayed.
In addition, Rush Limbaugh has described liberals' response to the incident as “no different than those countries reacting freakishly when there were cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.”
It's impossible to guess how much longer the media will keep “clowning around” with this story, so stay tuned.