Fox spends the first day of Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy assailing his name

Fox spends the first day of Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy assailing his name

››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

After former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) announced that he is running for president, Fox News personalities mocked O’Rourke for using the nickname Beto, given to him by his father. Republican officials appearing on Fox shows also targeted O’Rourke's name, urging network hosts to call him by his full name, Robert Francis O’Rourke.


Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

O’Rourke announced his presidential candidacy March 14

O’Rourke announced his 2020 presidential run in a video. The former Democratic congressman announced in a nearly four-minute video that he is “running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America.” The video was released while he was touring Iowa for his campaign. [NPR, 3/14/19]

O’Rourke has reportedly been nicknamed "Beto" since his early childhood. During O’Rourke’s unsuccessful challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his Senate seat in 2018, PolitiFact Texas reported that O'Rourke had been going by the nickname "Beto" since he was a young child:

O’Rourke has told PolitiFact Texas that he remembers being called Beto, short for Roberto in Spanish, from his earliest days. After Cruz debuted a campaign song in which the singer says O’Rourke adopted “Beto” to “fit in,” O’Rourke responded with a March tweet including a photo showing him as a youngster wearing a white shirt with “Beto” stitched across it. [Austin American-Statesman, 8/17/18]

Fox News personalities and Republican guests disregarded O’Rourke’s full name or made up an insulting nickname for him

Fox News host Sean Hannity christened O’Rourke “Robert Francis 'Bozo' O’Rourke.” From the March 14 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Now before we get to our top story, I want to focus on Hannity Watch, the radical 2020 Democratic candidates. Yet another Democrat has jumped into the race. This case being former Congressman Robert Francis "Bozo" O'Rourke -- well, that's what I call him -- is flailing his way into the race this week, literally, telling Vanity Fair that he was born to run for president. How regal. Needless to say, Bozo got off to a hot start in Iowa.

...

On the more humorous side, Speaker Pelosi was actually asked today to name Bozo's greatest accomplishments during his time there in the House.

...

Now, too bad all that vitality didn't help 'Bozo' achieve anything during his time in Washington. But get ready: If Bozo is elected he plans to flush the Constitution down the toilet like so many other 2020 radical, extreme Democratic socialists. And he wants to pack the Supreme Court, in other words, they want to increase the number of court justices. Illegally reshape the court. We're going to have more in a mini-monologue featuring everything you know -- need to know -- about Robert Francis O'Rourke that the left-wing destroy hate-Trump media mob will never tell you, including the time he almost killed somebody during a DUI hit and run incident. And we’ll show you what President Trump has to say about, well, Bozo's decision to run. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/14/19]

Fox News contributor Karl Rove: “Please, let’s not refer to him by the fake nickname. … Let’s please refer to him by the name he appears on the ballot as, Robert Francis O’Rourke.” From the March 14 edition of Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria Bartiromo:

KARL ROVE (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): And look, please, let's not refer to him by the fake name, nickname that he did not use at Woodberry Forest, that he did not use at Columbia, that he did not use as an adult when he was in a grunge band, but only started to re-emphasize when he ran for the city council in a heavily Latino town, El Paso, TX. Let's please refer to him by the name he appears on the ballot as, Robert Francis O'Rourke. Please, let’s do that.

MARIA BARTIROMO (HOST): Wow, that’s a good point.

...

BARTIROMO: So he just started using it when he ran for office. That's interesting. Because I was just asking the panel about Beto and Robert Francis and why now we’re calling him Beto. I mean, he's Irish, right?

ROVE: Well, he's Robert Francis O'Rourke, yeah. And look, if you want a nickname, let's give him what his name regularly represents. R.F.O.R. Robert Francis O'Rourke. R.F.O.R. Come on. Let’s do it. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 3/14/19]

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley: “You pronounced it wrong. It’s Robert Francis.” From the March 14 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

BILL HEMMER (HOST): Beto O’Rourke is now in the game for the Democratic primary. What’s the president think about that?

HOGAN GIDLEY (WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY): Well first of all, you pronounced it wrong. It’s Robert Francis. That’s No. 1.

HEMMER: Just to follow on that, you answered that question by calling him Robert Francis. Is that how the president will refer to him?

GIDLEY: Well, he’s called him that before on the campaign trail. And why wouldn’t he? That's his name. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/14/19]

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel: “We’re coming on St. Patrick’s Day, let’s use his given name. Robert Francis O’Rourke.” From the March 14 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.:

RONNA MCDANIEL (REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN): He -- Robert Francis -- he's announcing at an opportune time, St. Patrick's Day is coming up. Robert Francis O'Rourke, what has he done? He's passed legislation to rename a courthouse and lost to Ted Cruz.

STUART VARNEY (HOST): Very interesting put-down of Beto O’Rourke, I got to say.

MCDANIEL: Robert Francis.

VARNEY: Oh sorry, sorry.

MCDANIEL: Let’s not forget, we’re coming on St. Patrick’s Day, let’s use his given name.

VARNEY: Whatever you say.

MCDANIEL: Robert Francis O’Rourke. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/14/19]

Trump campaign strategic communications director Marc Lotter: “We should -- in the spirit of the season -- wish a happy St. Patrick’s Day to Robert Francis O’Rourke.” From the March 14 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

BILL HEMMER (HOST): Did we learn enough about Beto’s positions when he ran that race against Ted Cruz?

MARC LOTTER (TRUMP 2020): This is a candidate who openly embraced tearing down our border walls, decriminalizing coming into our country illegally. I would welcome him to the race. It’s not a Democratic Party race, it's a race to the left. And by the way, we should -- in the spirit of the season -- wish a happy St. Patrick's Day to Robert Francis O’Rourke. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/14/19]

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