A Fox News anchor railed against President Donald Trump on Monday over his failure to immediately condemn white supremacists after a rally to protest the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend turned deadly.
Eboni K. Williams, co-host of “The Fox News Specialists,” called Trump’s initially vague condemnation of Saturday’s bloody clashes “cowardly and dangerous.”
“I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt,” Williams said during her show on the Fox News Channel, a network known for its Trump-friendly coverage. “I can no longer do that, Mr. President. No more benefit ― all doubt.”
“In a moment where you could have been crystal clear where you stand on the issue of inclusion, standing up against white supremacy and domestic terrorism, you very intentionally chose to be ambiguous and equivocate,” she continued.
Trump faced withering criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike in the days following the Charlottesville protests. Hours after 20-year-old white nationalist James Alex Fields rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, the president ambiguously denounced hatred and bigotry from “many sides.”
After facing two days of backlash, Trump finally condemned white supremacist groups by name ― including neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan ― during an address to the nation on Monday.
You’ve decided that the portion of your base that is absolutely racist is so significant, so valuable that you hesitate ― even in the face of blatant, flagrant hatred ― to risk turning them off. Eboni K. Williams, co-host of "The Fox News Specialists"
“Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said Monday.
But the message was too little, too late for Williams, who accused Trump of trying to appeal to racist members of his base by not immediately taking a stronger stance against white nationalism in the wake of Saturday’s violence.
“President Trump, I do not know your heart, but what I do know for sure is that you’ve clearly done the math,” Williams said. “You’ve decided that the portion of your base that is absolutely racist is so significant, so valuable that you hesitate ― even in the face of blatant, flagrant hatred ― to risk turning them off and thereby crippling your political stronghold.”
You remember when you said your base would stick with you even if you shot someone on Fifth Avenue? I think you are right. I think they will stick with you through anything. ... They will even stick with you while you calm their fears and deep-seated anger around their perceived depreciation of the intrinsic value of whiteness in this country. Let’s be honest: That’s what this is all really about.
Despite his proclamation Monday that “racism is evil,” Trump built both his presidential campaign and his real estate business on racism ― a pattern that did not go unnoticed by Williams.
While she acknowledged that Trump might not “personally” be racist, she accused him of being “all too happy to reap the benefits” of racists’ support.
You are uniquely positioned to forcefully call out evil, anti-American domestic terrorists. We certainly cannot change what we fail to acknowledge. Eboni K. Williams, co-host "The Fox News Specialists"
“You even tacitly encourage them with evasive, irresponsible statements,” Williams added.
She concluded her statement with a “personal plea” to Trump:
You are uniquely positioned to forcefully call out evil, anti-American domestic terrorists. We certainly cannot change what we fail to acknowledge. I am asking you to address their anger, their misplaced fears. Let them know this is America, land of opportunity, and there is indeed enough to go around.
Williams’ fiery comments offer a stark contrast to many of her fellow Fox News hosts and contributors.
On Sunday’s “Fox & Friends,” co-host Pete Hegseth praised Trump’s initial response to the Charlottesville clashes on Saturday before comparing white supremacists to Black Lives Matter protesters.
“There’s a reason those people were out there,” Hegseth said of those participating in Saturday’s rally, which was filled with Nazi emblems and Confederate flags. “Some of it is outright racism and needs to be condemned. A lot of it, though, is I feel like my country is slipping away and just because I talk about nationalism ― not white nationalism ― doesn’t mean I’m talking in code that I’m a racist.”