Fox News' biggest stars showered praise Wednesday on the thousands of demonstrators who descended upon Michigan's state Capitol in protest of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order, which has forced nonessential businesses to shut down. The move comes amid a larger push from Republicans to reopen in the economy even it results in more deaths.
"The sooner we take our freedoms back, the less likely the government will be able to continue doing this," Judge Andrew Napolitano told "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning. "And if we don't take our freedoms back, they might not come back," he added.
Tucker Carlson, during an interview with Meshawn Maddock of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, accused Whitmer of grandstanding in a bid to win the vice presidential nomination as he labeled her order "mindless and authoritarian."
After Maddock blasted the governor for regulations that prevent Michangders from hunting, fishing, and boating, Carlson offered up his gratitude.
"Thank you for coming on tonight, and thank you for exercising your constitutionally-protected rights as an American," he said. "Bless you."
Fox News host Ingraham tweeted her support during the day for protesters across the country and lauded a video of vehicles headed to Lansing, Mich. (Whitmer told MSNBC the cars "were blocking one of our hospitals, so an ambulance literally wasn't able to get into the bay for ten minutes.") On her primetime program, Ingraham also praised Americans willing to risk contracting the virus and spreading it to others in order to "preserve their way of life."
Protesters drove thousands of vehicles Wednesday to the state's Capitol in an effort to gin up gridlock in the streets. Many demonstrators got out of their vehicles to mill around, waving signs as they flaunted state and federal social distancing guidelines. The demonstration quickly took on the air of a Trump campaign rally, featuring MAGA apparel and the Trump Unity Bridge, the truck-towed float often seen at the president's political events. NBC News also spotted at least two confederate flags.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham interviewed one of the attendees, who insisted that the event was not a political act. However, no specifics of how demonstrators went "out of their way" to make it bipartisan were offered.
Sean Hannity featured Judge Jeanine Pirro and Trump surrogate Pam Bondi on his show. Pirro called the Michigan governor a "dictator" and attacked the so-called forces that "want to keep us locked in our homes."
Pirro went on to accuse Democrats of hijacking the pandemic as a way "to bring in the leftist agenda," telling Hannity that "the left is trying to stop" Americans from returning to work and worshipping in public.
"You over blew what was going to happen in terms of the number of people who are going to die, and now you're still telling us we have to stay home?" she asked.
About 97% of Americans are currently under state and local stay-at-home orders, though President Donald Trump has stopped short of calling for a nationwide lockdown. Trump and officials on the White House Coronavirus Task Force have urged all Americans to stay home and practice social distancing until April 30. However, Trump's daughter-turned-adviser Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner flouted federal guidelines and local travel restrictions to make a trip from their home in Washington to their family's golf resort in New Jersey.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., credited citizens for adhering to national and local guidelines and flattening the curve. Task force officials Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx have echoed that sentiment, while at the same time warning that a premature re-opening could risk a resurgence in infections and deaths. Trump has pushed for reopening the economy on May 1, a move which officials from inside his own administration have called unrealistic.
Despite such guidance, anti-lockdown demonstrations will likely expand in the coming weeks as more states — especially red states — begin to see new infections and deaths peak, plateau or possibly drop.
"God bless them," Pirro said of the Michigan protesters, a state which has already seen 2,000 deaths. "It's going to happen all over the country," she said.