Laura Ingraham returned to Fox News on Monday evening, her first show since taking off for a week in the face of a large-scale advertising boycott launched by Parkland, Fla., student David Hogg. Ingraham never referred to Hogg in her lengthy opening statement, which she titled “The Left’s Plot to Silence Conservatives.” Indeed, if you weren’t aware of the Ingraham-Hogg backstory — a fight Ingraham picked by gratuitously attacking Hogg in a tweet — you’d never know that this was the subtext of everything the host said on The Ingraham Angle about “bullies on the left” and a “chilling effect on free speech.”
I have to give Ingraham credit: She marshaled the best defense possible by framing the controversy as a free-speech issue and raised legitimate complaints about, for example, the silencing of objectionable speakers on college campuses. She attempted to place her objections in a historical context. When she put up photos of the late Christopher Hitchens and the late Nat Hentoff to bewail the lack of “true” free-speech liberals “to defend the vigorous exchange of ideas,” I too felt some sadness that these two fine journalists are not still around to offer their points of view in defense of First Amendment absolutism. It was also interesting to see her bring up the firing, last week, of conservative writer Kevin D. Williamson from the Atlantic magazine due to highly offensive remarks about women who get abortions. This was probably the first time the vast majority of Fox News viewers had heard of Williamson and the debate about his employment that was pervasive throughout media circles last week.
I don’t think Ingraham deserves to be driven off the air for a mean tweet about Hogg, although I did enjoy seeing the kid flex his media muscle, a demonstration that should give the NRA pause. Soon enough, however, Ingraham was abandoning the reasonableness of the opening moments of her show to delve into more typical weirdnesses, such as calling Planned Parenthood a “violent” organization and sneering at “all that malarkey about the patriarchy.”
Ingraham promised a “major announcement” at the end of her show. This turned out to be a “recurring series” — a new, regular feature to be titled “Defending the First.” She asked any viewers who have been subjected to “threats or intimidation” for their conservative beliefs to tweet her immediately. “We will expose the enemies of the First Amendment!” she thundered. In other words, she’s going to do her variation on stuff that already occurs regularly on Fox, such as Tucker Carlson’s “Campus Craziness” segments.
The Ingraham Angle airs weeknights at 10 p.m. on Fox News.
Watch: Laura Ingraham gets a strong welcome back from fans after Twitter war with David Hogg
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