Fox News contributor and former Trump campaign official David Bossie has been suspended two weeks by the network over a racist remark he made during a heated debate on Fox & Friends, according to a report by the Daily Beast. Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.
David Bossie, who was deputy chairman of President Trump's campaign and is a Fox News contributor, told Democratic strategist Joel Payne "you're out of your cotton-picking mind" during a discussion Sunday about the president's "zero-tolerance" border policy, which has led to more than 2,300 children — some as young as infants — being separated from their parents at the Mexican border.
Payne, who is black, immediately took offense to Bossie's racially charged statement. "Cotton-picking mind? Well, let me tell you something. I've got some relatives who picked cotton. And I'm not going to sit here and allow you to attack me like that on TV."
The conservative activist showed no immediate regret over the comment but later apologized. On air, Bossie blasted Payne's reaction as "ridiculous" and "outrageous."
Immediately following the segment, Fox & Friends guest host Ed Henry, the network's chief national correspondent, told viewers that Bossie's comments were "obviously offensive."
"I just want to address what happened in that debate. It clearly offended Joel Payne. It offended many others," Henry said. "I want to make clear that Fox News and this show, myself, we don't agree with that particular phrase. It was obviously offensive."
In a statement, Fox News called Bossie's remarks "deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate… His remarks do not reflect the sentiments of Fox News and we do not in any way condone them."
Hours after the segment, Bossie apologized on Twitter, noting that "I should have chosen my words more carefully."
Later Sunday, Payne appeared on MSNBC and told host David Gura what he thought of Bossie's remark.
"Well, obviously I felt demeaned," Payne said, noting that he accepted Bossie's apology. "Unfortunately that's par for the course for this president and the people who surround him."
This isn't the first time the phrase has been uttered on cable news. In 2010, former CNN host Rick Sanchez immediately apologized after referring to former President Barack Obama as the "cotton-picking president." Months earlier, then-Newsweek editor Julie Reed said Obama was "out of his cotton-picking mind" on Anderson Cooper 360.
Former Oklahoma City Thunder announcer Brian Davis, the play-by-play voice for the team for the past 10 seasons on Fox Sports Oklahoma, was informed last week that his contract wouldn't be renewed after he used the same racially charged phrase to refer to NBA star Russell Westbrook during a broadcast in April.
"We think obviously the use of that term was offensive and inappropriate," said Dan Mahoney, the vice president of broadcasting for the Thunder.
Fox News has not said whether Bossie, who was hired to "offer political analysis" on the network in February, would be allowed to return. Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Bossie was the president of Citizens United, a conservative non-profit most well-known for winning a 2010 Supreme Court case that allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money during elections on political activities.
Bossie wasn't the only former Trump campaign official to offend viewers while discussing the situation at the border on Fox News. Last week, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski downplayed the story of a 10-year-old with Down syndrome who was taken from her mother after an illegal border crossing by saying, "Womp, womp" to Democratic strategist Zac Petkanas.
"Did you just say 'womp, womp' to a 10-year-old with Down syndrome separated from her mother?" Petkanas asked. "How dare you! How absolutely dare you, sir!"
Leading Authorities Inc., a speakers bureau based in Washington, D.C., dropped Lawandowski last week due to his comments.
The Trump administration is now attempting to reunite parents with their separated children, who have been taken to locations across the country. A statement from the Department of Health and Human Services said the department is still in custody of 2,053 children, but according to the Washington Post their reunification with their parents could wait until the adults' deportation proceedings are completed.
"The United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families," the statement read. "This process is well coordinated."