Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace criticized conservatives for lionizing Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose outlaw campaign against the federal government further collapsed when he was caught in a racist tirade against blacks.
Wallace told radio host and Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher, "some of your colleagues on the conservative side jumped on this bandwagon way too quickly, way too -- and, you know, I've never quite understood why this guy was a hero."
Wallace added that he agreed with Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, who similarly criticized conservatives for championing Bundy. Krauthammer remarked yesterday on Fox News: "Do I have the right to go in to graze sheep in Central Park? I think not. You have to have some respect for the federal government, some respect for our system. And to say you don't and you don't recognize it and that makes you a conservative hero, to me, is completely contradictory, and rather appalling."
While Wallace did not single out specific conservatives, many of Bundy's biggest champions work for Fox News. Fox News' senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitano, called Bundy a "patriotic, heroic American." Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes defended Bundy by claiming "they used to string folks up" for what the government did to Bundy.
And Fox News host Sean Hannity spent weeks pushing Bundy's cause and hosted him multiple times. His fervent support for Bundy drew criticism and mockery, causing Hannity to respond that "we're not ashamed of our coverage. We're actually proud of our coverage." When the racist tirade surfaced, however, Hannity was forced to renounce Bundy's comments, while claiming government overreach is still the real issue.
From the April 25 edition of Salem Radio Network's The Mike Gallagher Show:
GALLAGHER: From day one, I said let's not get too excited about this guy. We don't know anything about him. He's not exactly -- this is probably not a guy who could be -- is the poster child for being folk hero status. That's what I said.
WALLACE: Well, that's wise. Because I must say, some of your colleagues on the conservative side jumped on this bandwagon way too quickly, way too -- and, you know, I've never quite understood why this guy was a hero. I mean I understand you say, "Well, government overreach, big government." But as Charles Krauthammer said yesterday, "You know, if I wanted to graze my sheep in Central Park, do I have a right to do that?"
GALLAGHER: Right. But everything about what people don't like about the government came to fruition in this story.
WALLACE: Well wait a minute. The guy had had judgments against him. They went to court. I don't know, we have a system. You go to court. If you don't like what the court does, then you appeal it in the court. He'd been in the courts for ten years and the courts kept ruling against him.
WALLACE: I'm not saying that the government acted perfectly. On the other hand, I don't know that you make a hero out of a guy who, you know, look. There are obligations. It would be like saying, "Well, I'm not going to allow myself to be screened at the airport. Because that's government overreach."
GALLAGHER: No, you're right. You're right.
WALLACE: Guess what? You're going to be put in jail.