Fox News shows use cropped quote to smear presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg

UPDATE (9:20 p.m.): Fox host Tucker Carlson also used the truncated quote to attack Buttigieg, saying “it's all pretty dark, really.”

On the afternoon of May 6, Daily Wire personality (and purveyor of wildly misleading clips on Twitter) Ryan Saavedra tweeted a video of presidential hopeful and South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Saavedra wrote, “Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg today in South Carolina: America ‘was never as great as advertised.’” Washington Post political reporter Dave Weigel quickly pointed out that Buttigieg had gone on to say “especially for marginalized Americans.”

Buttigieg’s claim is fairly banal; there are many examples of Americans facing oppression throughout history: slavery of Black Americans, genocide of indigenous peoples, nativist discrimination against immigrants, Jim Crow laws, internment of Japanese Americans, oppression of women, bans on marriage equality, and many more. We’re still grappling with the aftereffects of all of these.

Multiple Fox segments on the morning of May 7 ran with a cropped version of the Buttigieg quote, cutting it off before Buttigieg mentioned “marginalized Americans.”

  • Fox & Friends aired the cropped version of the Buttigieg quote, and co-host Brian Kilmeade later added, “Nice to know that Mayor Pete wants to run a country that was never that great.”

  • Fox “hard news” show America’s Newsroom also truncated the Buttigieg quote. The partial quote first appeared in a tease in the 9 a.m. hour, with anchor Bill Hemmer introducing the clip of a “Democratic candidate questioning our country’s greatness while taking shots at the president,” and later asking, “What do you think of that from Mayor Pete that the past was not as great as advertised?”

  • America’s Newsroom returned to the subject in the 10 a.m. hour, again airing the truncated quote. Hemmer added that Buttigieg “went there” while a chyron on screen said “Buttigieg Blunder? Dem Candidate Says America’s Past Wasn’t That Great.” Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics and Fox News contributor Jessica Tarlov briefly discussed Buttigieg’s comment without ever mentioning the full quote, and the conversation quickly turned to a discussion of polling.

Some Fox segments did air the full quote, though even those shows framed it around the smear.

  • In the 4 a.m. hour, Fox & Friends First put up the chyron “Buttigieg Blasts America” while airing the full excerpt.

  • In the 5 a.m. hour, Fox & Friends First again aired the whole quote, this time with the chyron “Pete Buttigieg Questions The Greatness Of America.” Fox reporter Carley Shimkus even said, “When you make fun of the slogan ‘Make America Great Again,’ some people feel like you’re making fun of the history or mocking the history of the country” before proceeding to read right-wing replies to Saavedra’s tweet.

Buttigieg is scheduled to take part in a Fox News town hall on May 19.