Steve King has been racist for years, and right-wing media have defended him every step of the way

Steve King has been racist for years, and right-wing media have defended him every step of the way

››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. & ALEX KAPLAN

Despite his extremism, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has drawn on-air praise from right-wing media figures for years, with terms like “true warrior,” “great mentor,” and “hero.” Fox News figure Tucker Carlson once defended King’s white supremacy by stating, “Everything you said I think is defensible and probably right," while Laura Ingraham has said she understood “his point.”


Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

King lost committee assignments after questioning why it is “offensive” to be a “white nationalist” in a NY Times interview

King asked The New York Times when “white nationalist” became an “offensive” phrase. King, who has a history of spouting racism and supporting white nationalists, said to The New York Times in an interview, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” [The New York Times, 1/10/19, 10/14/19]

House GOP stripped King of committee assignments after Times interview. Following King’s interview with the Times, House Republican leadership removed King from multiple committee assignments. [The New York Times, 1/14/19]

King’s extremism and bigotry have been apparent for years. King’s lengthy record of bigotry and racist views have been celebrated by white supremacists and extremists, who refer to him as “our guy.” His ties to neo-Nazis and his espousal of white supremacist views throughout the years have been well-documented, but the GOP has systematically ignored it until now. [HuffPost, 7/19/18, 1/15/19]

Right-wing media figures have praised and defended King for years

Radio host Rush Limbaugh thanked King for coming to his defense over Limbaugh’s racist remarks related to a Black NFL quarterback. In 2003, Rush Limbaugh came under fire after making racist remarks about NFL player Donovan McNabb, claiming media overrated his skills because they wanted to see a Black quarterback succeed. In 2009, during a congressional hearing questioning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the league’s practices regarding head injuries, King took it upon himself to defend Limbaugh’s racist comments, which Goodell at the time called “divisive.” Limbaugh thanked King on his October 29, 2009, show:

RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): I want to thank Congressman King -- he’s from Iowa -- for doing this. I’ll play it for you here in just a second because I don’t recall -- and I could be wrong; I don’t want to slight anybody -- I don’t recall ever being defended like this at such a high level of power. I’m not used to it. And it just -- it hit me hard, in a grateful way. So I want to thank Steve King. And I want you all to know what he did. [Media Matters, 10/29/09]

Breitbart.com’s Steve Bannon referred to King as a “great mentor to all of us and a great friend of the site, and a true warrior.” Speaking to King in 2015 on a Breitbart radio show regarding immigration, then-host Steve Bannon called King a “great mentor to all of us and a great friend of the site, and a true warrior.” From the November 20, 2015, edition of Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Daily:

STEVE BANNON (HOST): Now I want to turn to a dear friend of Andrew’s, and great mentor to all of us and a great friend of the site, and a true warrior. I know that’s why we want to have them on back to back. These are two guys, two men, who take it every day, and I got to tell you, Steve King of Iowa. Congressman King, we’ve had so many people call in today and just want to know, is America at war or America not at war? They know you’ve been fighting this fight on immigration for years and years and years. You’ve been mocked and ridiculed. And they don’t understand why speaker of the House sits there and smirks at them and says, “Oh, these are not American values,” when these are common-sense Americans who say, “Hey, look, there ought to be a one- or two- or three-year moratorium. Let’s just find out who we got in this country. Why are we letting anybody else in here?” [Sirius XM, Breitbart News Daily, 11/20/15]

Former Fox host Glenn Beck called King “one of the most honest, forthright people that I know.” Former Fox host Glenn Beck defended King after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called him a liar, calling King “one of the most honest, forthright people that I know.” From the February 3, 2016, edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File:

GLENN BECK: First of all, I don't want to say anything bad about Sarah Palin. I don’t know what she is thinking. I don’t know where she’s coming from. She's now calling Steve King, one of the most honest, forthright people that I know, a liar. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 2/3/16]

Fox host Sean Hannity referred to King as one of “the only people that I care about, that I have any faith or trust in.” Discussing the House Freedom Caucus, Fox host Sean Hannity said on his radio show that the members of the caucus and “others that aren’t members, like [Rep.] Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Congressman Steve King of Iowa,” are “the only people that I care about, that I really have any faith or trust in.” From the October 14, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I will say this. You were part of the Freedom Caucus?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I am.

HANNITY: You know, between the Freedom Caucus and a couple of others that aren’t members, like [Rep] Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Congressman Steve King of Iowa, and I really can’t think of anybody else, to be honest. You’re the only --

JORDAN: You’re identifying my favorite members.

HANNITY: OK. You're the only people that I care about, that I really have any faith or trust in. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/14/16]

Conservative figure Mark Steyn said “Steve King is entitled to” have racist points of view “because a lot of people quite like the way their countries are and they don’t want them to change.” While filling in for Rush Limbaugh on the March 13, 2017, edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, former CRTV host and Fox regular Mark Steyn defended King after King tweeted that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Steyn said King was “entitled” to his racist point of view:

MARK STEYN (GUEST HOST): In the days when my mum was a little girl and she went to Rotterdam, it was a homogenous, ethnically Dutch town. They didn’t even particularly care for Belgians, like my mother. The idea that there would be people in the streets cheering “Alahu Akbar,” hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them all around in the streets of Rotterdam would’ve astonished my mother. So, a dependence on mass immigration becomes transformative. It won’t save your society; it will only transform your society into something other. And Steve King is entitled to point that out. Because a lot of people quite like the way their countries are and they don’t want them to change just because the political class has decided they’d like it to change. It doesn’t matter what the reason for the change is. I understand that if you’re a wealthy Democrat like Nancy Pelosi it’s a bore to have to mow your own lawn and it’s a lot easier to get somebody else to do it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/13/17]

Steyn also congratulated King for the tweet, saying, “This is the kind of debate free societies are entitled to have.” From the March 13, 2017, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:

MARK STEYN (GUEST HOST): Congratulations, Steve King. This is the kind of debate free societies are entitled to have, and if you’re saying “racist,” all you’re going to do is wind up with poll results like those poll results they have over in Europe, where the people are going to turn to far more extreme answers because you wouldn’t even let them debate any of the moderate answers. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/13/17]

Fox’s Tucker Carlson hosted King to defend his racist tweet, calling his argument “defensible and probably right.” While hosting King on his show Tucker Carlson Tonight to discuss his racist tweet, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said, “Everything you said I think is defensible and probably right.” [Media Matters, 3/13/17]

Laura Ingraham also defended King’s racist tweet: “I understand his point.” On the March 14, 2017, edition of her radio show, Ingraham called King’s tweet “a mathematical fact:”

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): They’re going after Steve King -- of course, congressman from Iowa. They want to demonize him. I wouldn’t have stated it exactly the way he did, but I understand his point. His point is that a society that does not replenish its population through a rising birthright -- birthrate -- will cease to exist. I mean, over time that’s just a mathematical fact. That’s why, for instance, in certain countries in Europe we’re seeing declining birthrate being replaced by new migrant birthrates, very high birthrates among Muslim immigrants, some from North Africa into places like France, others migrants into Northern Europe -- Sweden, Denmark, and Holland. And this was talked about decades ago -- this was addressed decades ago by people like Pat Buchanan in his book Death of the West. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 3/14/17]

Ingraham also slammed those condemning King’s racist tweet, saying they would be “happy if the American way of life and the American culture … goes down the tubes.” Ingraham also mocked people condemning King’s racist tweet:

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): They slammed him. One after the other came out yesterday slamming Steve King for making these comments. See, a lot of these people are happy if the American way of life and the American culture go down -- goes down the tubes. They’re happy! They don’t want it to survive. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 3/14/17]

Ingraham has referred to King as “good people.” While describing a meeting she had with Republican members of Congress, Ingraham singled out King and Gohmert to call them “good people.”

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): I spoke to some members of Congress from the Conservative Opportunity Society. Steve King and, you know, whole gaggle, like Louie Gohmert. Good people. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 6/28/17]

Ingraham called King “one of my heroes on the issue of immigration.” While hosting him during the June 30, 2017, edition of her radio show, Ingraham introduced King as one of her “heroes on the issue of immigration” and thanked him for his anti-immigrant stances:

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): One of my heroes on the issue of immigration has been Steve King, congressman from the great state of Iowa. He joins us now, and this was a wonderful moment for the rule of law, for our sovereignty, and our immigration policy and enforcement. Congressman Steve King, if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be here today, celebrating this moment. Congressman King, thank you for joining us.

REP. STEVE KING: Well, Laura, I thank you. I’m just here just with a big smile on my face listening to how you framed this thing and I’m so glad you do and you see with that perspective. I just had a terrific week -- I got to have breakfast with you on Wednesday morning and a group of conservative members. You jazzed us all up. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 6/30/17]

Limbaugh referred to King as “a good guy.” While mentioning his disagreement with King over whether President Donald Trump could lose public support unless he kept a hard line against the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protected from deportation undocumented immigrants who were brought in as children, Limbaugh said King was “a good guy.” From the September 15, 2017, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:

RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): But I think people who believe that the Trump base is about to blow through the roof here is -- it’s not -- it’s not reflected in the polling data. Like Steve King, the Iowa congress[man], is a good guy. He was afraid, he was on TV yesterday saying, “If Trump does this, that blows up his base, it’s over.” And that’s not what the Morning Consult polling data shows at all. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/15/17]

Ingraham characterized King’s racist, anti-immigrant views by saying he is “well-known for his ... hard-line stances on immigration. He believes in what [President Donald] Trump campaigned on.” While hosting King on her Fox News show, The Ingraham Angle, Ingraham characterized his white supremacist views as “hard-line stances on immigration.”

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): All right, well, we’re going to talk to Congressman Steve King in just a moment. And he’s well-known for his, well, hard-line stances on immigration. He believes in what [President Donald] Trump campaigned on, which is, you got to build a wall, you got to end chain migration, you got to end migration based just on family ties, it has to be merit-based and it has to be great for the American people. We also have humanitarian concerns for people who are truly in need, we’ve always been welcoming to those people, but that also has to be done with an eye toward common sense. In other words, refugees who come into the country who would not really meld with the American understanding, or appreciate our views on nondiscrimination and so forth, that would not work. And Congressman King supported the president precisely because of his immigration views along with a few other issues. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/26/18]

Radio host Howie Carr defended King’s criminalization of immigrants: “I don't think anyone has ever disproven his numbers” about immigrants killing people. While discussing immigration, Massachusetts radio host Howie Carr claimed that although King is called “a nativist and a xenophobe because he's said that, you know, maybe two dozen Americans a day are murdered or killed by illegal aliens,” “I don't think anyone has ever disproven his numbers.” [WRKO, The Howie Carr Show, 2/6/18]

OANN’s Graham Ledger: King is as “pro-America as they came” and one of the “fine constitutionally conservative members” on the House Judiciary Committee. Discussing which Republicans should be on the House Judiciary Committee for the upcoming Congress, One America News Network host Graham Ledger mentioned that the committee had “fine constitutionally conservative members” such as King, who is as “pro-America as they come.” From the December 13 edition of OANN’s The Daily Ledger:

GRAHAM LEDGER (HOST): And that brings us to the Republican members on that committee. There are many fine constitutionally conservative members: Jim Jordan; Louie Gohmert, who’s a former state judge in Texas; Steve King -- he’s a pro-America as they come; and Matt Gaetz. These are solid guys with many years experience in Congress and in the courts. [One America News, The Daily Ledger, 12/13/18]

After the NY Times interview featuring white supremacist comments, some right-wing media figures continued to defend King

Fox’s Brit Hume: Claims of King being racist are “bogus.” Discussing King’s remarks to The New York Times on January 15, Fox News analyst Brit Hume claimed the Times piece was “completely bogus,” adding, “I mean, those comments -- look, I don't agree with them and I'm no fan of Steve King, but, I am sorry, they did not amount to racism.” [Media Matters, 1/15/19]

Radio host Ed Martin says King is a “good friend” of his and gives King a platform to defend himself. Conservative radio host Ed Martin hosted King to defend himself after he was stripped of his committee assignments, calling King a “good friend.” [Media Matters, 1/15/19]

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