Fox News host Chris Wallace made a point to differentiate himself from what some of his colleagues seem to be comfortable doing—namely, compromising away the use of vigilante justice to make a political point.
During a Thursday panel discussion, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlic seemed to make excuses for the alleged actions of 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who, on Wednesday, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide after allegedly shooting and killing two protesters and seriously injuring another during demonstrations over the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich made an argument that seemed to excuse vigilante justice when a law enforcement “void” exists.
“I have to say on the argument of vigilante justice. When you have no police around to defend businesses and people who are being attacked and their livelihoods burned to the ground, then there is a void that is filled,” Pavlich said.
Pavlich then railed against Democratic city and state officials who she blamed for the supposed void, and host Melissa Francis wholeheartedly agreed with her take, saying, “No, that’s a great point. The vigilantes are just as much the fault of those local leaders who have failed so miserably. Great point.”
Following a commercial break, Wallace made it clear that he was not buying the message that was sent during the last segment.
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“I’ve got to push back on something we said at the end of the last segment because there seemed to be the implication that somehow vigilante justice was understandable or justified by the lack of sufficient police action and authority and presence in some of these cities,” Wallace said.
As Wallace tried to complete his thought, both Pavlich and Francis showed their displeasure with Wallace’s understanding of their argument, interrupting several times.
“I just gotta say this, just as it’s completely a disconnect,” Wallace said when he tried to continue after Francis interjected to say, “That’s not what was said.”
Wallace replied, “Well, that seemed to be the implication. That vigilantes were filling… Let me finish… that vigilantes were filling the void from police. Just as it’s fair to say that rioting and looting is a completely inappropriate response to George Floyd or Jacob Blake, vigilante justice is a completely inappropriate response to the rioting in the street. There is no justification for what happened in Kenosha, and vigilante justice is a crime and should be punished as a crime.”
Francis shook her head no and repeatedly said “obviously” while Wallace spoke.
Finally, host Harris Faulkner tried to put an end to the disagreement by claiming Wallace just didn’t understand.
“We did not say that. We did not say that before,” Faulkner said.
Francis then told Wallace: “It’s a shame you misunderstood the end of that segment there.”
Wallace shot back: “You were saying to fill a void. I don’t think that’s right!”
Faulkner then said that Wallace brought “nuance” to the conversation which brought a wry smile his face.
Wallace has to be aware of the heated blowback Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has received following Carlson’s commentary about Rittenhouse on Wednesday night, so Wallace might be looking to distance himself from the network’s primetime bomb-thrower.
Using a similar rationale to Pavlich, Carlson seemed to rationalize vigilante justice by asking his audience, “Are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?”
After Carlson’s program aired, social media called on the host’s removal and #FireTuckerCarlson began to trend.