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Fox News Pundits and Trump Condemned for Attacks Spewed at Teenage Climate Leader Greta Thunberg

"In a landmark event, the world learned what was too low even for Fox News."

Fox News host Laura Ingraham attacked youth activist Greta Thunberg Monday night.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham attacked youth activist Greta Thunberg Monday night. (Image: screenshot)

After youth activist Greta Thunberg tore into world leaders over their inaction on climate change Monday morning, Fox News spent hours attacking the 16 year-old, drawing condemnation and outrage—and, in one case, an apology from the right-wing network.

As Common Dreams reported Monday, Thunberg gave an impassioned speech to the United Nations on Monday where she decried the efforts of world leaders to address the climate crisis as insufficient.

"We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth," Thunberg told the U.N. "How dare you!" 

The speech made international news and earned her the attention of the right-wing U.S. media.

The attacks began in earnest Monday night during Fox's 7pm show "The Story with Martha Macallum." Fill-in host Harris Faulkner moderated a back and forth between progressive radio show host Christopher Hahn and The Daily Wire's Michael Knowles. During the exchange, Knowles repeatedly referred to Thunberg as a "mentally ill Swedish child"—repeating an attack he made earlier in the day on his radio show. Hahn demanded Knowles apologize. 

 A number of groups condemned Knowles in statements to The Hollywood Reporter, including Autistic Self Advocacy Network executive director Julie Bascom, who called the comment "unconsionable." 

 "History is full of autistic people and people with other cognitive disabilities who were and are compelling, credible activists and leaders," said Bascom. "Greta is a part of that tradition, and our community is lucky to have her. Period."

Fox, within hours of the segment, issued a condemnation of the remarks and said Knowles would not be invited back onto the network. 

"The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on 'The Story' tonight, was disgraceful," Fox told The Hollywood Reporter. "We apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers."

It was a rare admission of fault by the network, as Esquire writer Jack Holmes pointed out on Tuesday.

"In a landmark event, the world learned what was too low even for Fox News," Holmes wrote.

Yet, as a number of observers pointed out, the condemnation was a drop in the bucket compared to Fox's flood of invective aimed at Thunberg over the past week. 

"Fox has made it a regular practice of mocking teenage climate activists," wrote Vice's Tim Marcin, "despite the fact that they mobilized some 4 million people across more than 160 countries during the global climate strikes on Friday."

And for all its words on Knowles, Fox was silent on comments about Thunberg from two of its prime time hosts, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. 

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Carlson, in a haltingly incredulous monologue, said that Thunberg's speech to the U.N. was part of an "unscrupulous" plot by an undefined but nefarious "they" to seize power. 

"When you use children to demand power, they become a kind of human shield," Carlson said. "You can hide safely behind them; no-one can criticize you."

Two hours later, Ingraham said that Thunberg was like a charcter from Stephen King's horror novella and movie "Children of the Corn."

"I can't wait for Stephen King's sequel 'Children of the Climate,'" said Ingraham.

"Less than three hours after Fox’s hollow apology for hateful comments made by a Fox News guest—who the network says they won't book again—Fox News host Laura Ingraham spewed more hateful comments about Greta Thunberg," Media Matters for America communications director Laura Keiter told Common Dreams. "Bigotry, misogyny, and dangerous conspiracy theories are pushed on Fox News daily, with no public condemnation—let alone punishment—from Fox management." 

While Fox was silent on the remarks, Ingraham's brother Curtis—a frequent critic of his sister's behavior—tweeted that the comments made clear that Ingraham values her paycheck more than "the world her three adopted kids will inherit."  

"I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize," said Curtis. "I can and will continue to call out the monstrous behavior and the bully commentary born out of anger."

President Donald Trump joined in the attacks on Thunberg Monday night, tweeting a video of the activist's angry remarks at the U.N. Monday. 

"She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future," Trump said sarcastically. "So nice to see!"

Vox's Aaron Rupar called the tweet one of the president's "ugliest" for downplaying Thunberg's righteous anger.

"Trump's comment is meant to undermine the very thing that makes Thunberg an effective activist," wrote Rupar, "the impassioned moral clarity with which she speaks about climate change."

Thunberg hit back with a subtle troll for the president by adjusting her bio on Twitter, Trump's preferred medium of communication. 

Her bio now reads, "A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future."

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