Even after Fox News issued an on-air statement that the network does "not condone" the widely criticized warning by Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis to Florida voters to not "monkey this up" by electing the first black governor of the state, Fox News prime-time host Laura Ingraham took to her radio show to insist the GOP gubernatorial nominee actually "demand an apology" from the Democratic opponent he maligned.
Ingraham lashed out at Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum "for falsely accusing someone of racism" during her radio program on Thursday.
"You know what I'd do? I'd demand an apology of him. That's what I would do. 'You want me to apologize? You apologize for falsely accusing someone of racism to avoid a debate on the issues.' I'd turn it right around on them. 'You should apologize because it's pathetic to try to turn this into some kind of racial litmus test,'" the conservative host said on "The Laura Ingraham Show" Thursday. "By the way, Obama's used the phrase 'monkeying around' himself, so, back in 2008."
The Republican nominee, who is endorsed by President Donald Trump, used language that has been used historically to dehumanize, animalize and degrade black people — and even Fox News moved to quickly distance itself from DeSantis remarks.
In a follow-up segment, Fox News host Sandra Smith moved quickly to distance herself and the network from DeSantis' "monkey" comment, saying that Fox News does "not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement." She also noted that Gillum was set to appear on the network later in the day.
Smith then read a statement from the DeSantis campaign issued shortly after the incident, which maintained that the comment had nothing to do with race.
"Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd," a campaign spokesperson said. "Florida's economy has been on the move for the last eight years and the last thing we need is a far-left democrat trying to stop our success."
In response to the backlash, Ingraham said Thursday on her radio show, "Apparently, if you're white, you just can't criticize an opponent at all."
"If you criticize an opponent, you have to just — every word — you have to stop after you say every word or before you say any word, and think, 'OK, how will this be twisted by someone who is trying to avoid a real debate on the issues?'" she continued. "It's ridiculous."
A new poll from Public Policy Polling shows Gillum leading DeSantis 48 percent to 43 percent.