Jeanine Pirro is making trouble for her employer, that much is clear.
The host of Justice with Judge Jeanine on Fox News is off the air and allegedly suspended. After her weekly talk show didn't air on Saturday night, CNN reported Sunday, via "a source familiar with the matter," that the network has shut her down for some indeterminate amount of time.
The move comes a week after Pirro opened her March 9 episode with some words for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At one point during the nearly 10-minute rant, Pirro fixated on Omar's hijab, a head covering worn by some Muslim women.
Pirro suggested that Omar's religious beliefs — the sum total of which are communicated by her decision to wear a hijab, in the Fox host's view — put her at odds with the U.S. Constitution. The blowback came swiftly.
As of March 12, at least four advertisers had fled, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fox even made the rare move of issuing a statement: "We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar. They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly."
That was all the network had to say on the matter, but eyebrows raised when Pirro's show didn't air on Saturday. Even Donald Trump himself noticed, spending some of his Sunday morning Executive Time on Twitter defending her.
Fox News would neither confirm nor deny any suspension or firing in CNN's report, nor did it say if she'd be back on March 23. (CNN's source did note that Pirro hasn't been fired, so take that for what it's worth.)
It's worth nothing: this whole song-and-dance with Fox News publicly disengaging while unconfirmed reports spring up around its internal decisions feels familiar. It reminds me of the news wildfire that took off in Nov. 2018 when the network suddenly stopped updating multiple Twitter accounts, including its main Fox News channel (which still has more than 18 million followers).
Much like what's happening now, everything we know comes from anonymous sources. Reporting at the time suggested that the sudden Twitter stoppage was a kind of silent protest. It was prompted after protesters who showed up at Fox News host Tucker Carlson's house posted his address on Twitter (an address that is publicly available, it's worth noting). The network reportedly felt that Twitter didn't move quickly enough to remove the offending tweets.
That's why the Fox News Twitter account has been silent since Nov. 8, or so unconfirmed reporting on the matter has stated. The network hasn't said a word on it publicly, but — if you believe the reports, most of which come from reputable news outlets — someone (or multiple someones) is/are obviously talking.
Now, we see a similar situation taking shape with Pirro. The news of actual repercussions is out there, but the network hasn't taken any public steps to explain its response outside of a vague condemnation.
Why should it? Think about it from the Fox News perspective. The majority of the network's viewers are aligned with Trump's view of the mainstream media as "fake news" and an "enemy of the people." They don't trust the media, but they do trust Fox.
That makes it risky for the network to act publicly in these situations, whether it's admitting to an act of protest or accepting responsibility for an embarrassing moment. The news is allowed to "leak" out to conventional media sources — the "fake news," to most Fox viewers — while the network itself says nothing, subtly reinforcing its viewers' doubts.
It's a real have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too move. The "leaks" handle the more traditional PR messaging to mainstream media while the silence sits fine with Fox News viewers who just want to see the network keep on owning the libs.
Here's what we know for sure, the actual, provable facts: Pirro's offensive comments about Omar and, more generally, Islamic beliefs cost her advertisers. Fox News came out against the rant with a vague "we have addressed the matter with her directly" promise, and then her show didn't air on Saturday.
That may be the extent of Pirro's punishment for this transgression. Instead of getting mad about her seemingly light slap on the wrist, I'd urge you to consider the bigger picture here.
Look at what Fox News is doing and how it operates in a post-Trump world. Take note when controversy springs up around the network and really think about who stands to benefit when inside sources give scoops to CNN, New York Magazine, or literally any mainstream media outlet not called Fox News.