Fox News host Jesse Watters defends Native American ‘battlefield’ comments: ‘Not all fights are fair’

Fox News host Jesse Watters gestures with a pen in his right hand.
Fox News host Jesse Watters.

  • In an exclusive interview with Insider, Jesse Watters defended a recent controversial remark.
  • The Fox News host previously said “we won this nation on the battlefield” from the British and Native Americans.
  • Watters told Insider “the history of the world is a clash of civilizations.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Fox News host Jesse Watters doubled down on his controversial Native American comments in an exclusive interview with Insider.

The co-host of “The Five” and host of his own weekend show “Watters World” drew backlash from descendants of indigenous people and activists for saying the US “won this land on the battlefield” on July 7.

Watters – whose new book hit number one on both Amazon and The New York Times best seller list – was also referring to the British and the Revolutionary War in his initial comments, in addition to the acquisition of future states from Spain.

“This land wasn’t stolen,” Watters said at the time. “We won this land on the battlefield.”

In an interview with Insider alongside co-host Dana Perino, Watters defended the remark.

“Not all fights are fair,” he said. “That’s tough.”

When asked if this was something he really believed or if he was using hyperbole for entertainment purposes, Watters said “The Five” is a TV show with a minimal amount of time to make a point, not a history class.

“It’s not an hour-long history discussion on the US-Indian wars,” Watters said. “If it was a long discussion on that, perhaps, you know, there’s more nuance if you have the time. I have about a minute and 30 seconds to make a point.”

Watters also invoked the “clash of civilizations” concept, a post-Cold War school of thought in foreign policy that has gained traction since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. US military officials and diplomats – save for some in the Trump administration such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton – have been reluctant to embrace it because of potential associations with white supremacist ideologies.

“It wasn’t even the main point, but the history of the world is a clash of civilizations,” Watters said. “That was the history of this continent. Even the South American continent, the Europeans came, settlers clashed with the indigenous people. It was not a fair fight for a host of reasons, as we all know. And, you know, that’s history.”

At another point in the interview, Watters said American students should learn about slavery and other injustices “because without that, we don’t, we don’t have any understanding of where we came from. “

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CNN ends contract with Rick Santorum after dismissive comments about Native Americans

Ric Santorum
Rick Santorum appearing on CNN Debate Night on September 29, 2020.

  • Rick Santorum lost his contract at CNN after dismissing the role of Native Americans in US history, per HuffPo.
  • “There isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” he said at an event last month.
  • The comments provoked a wave of outrage from Indigenous groups and organizations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

CNN has terminated its contract with senior political commentator Rick Santorum following statements he made in April that dismissed the role of Native Americans in US history, according to The Huffington Post.

Santorum, a former two-term GOP senator from Pennsylvania and former presidential candidate, provoked a wave of outrage after saying that there was “nothing” in America before colonizers arrived.

“We birthed a nation from nothing,” he said at a Young America’s Foundation last month. “I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

He added: “It was born of the people who came here pursuing religious liberty to practice their faith, to live as they ought to live, and have the freedom to do so. Religious liberty. Those are the two bulwarks of America. Faith and freedom. It is what makes America unique in the world.”

Indigenous-led groups including the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and IllumiNative have spent weeks calling for Santorum’s ouster from CNN over his remarks.

On Saturday, a CNN senior executive told the Huffington Post that the network “quietly ended its contract with Santorum this week.”

The executive, who remained anonymous, said that the decision to boot Santorum came when he made an appearance on “Cuomo Prime Time” with host Chris Cuomo and “blew it” with his explanation of the comments.

Read more: Being a Black Republican is exhausting. But Sen. Tim Scott and other big-name conservatives say they don’t need anyone’s pity or platitudes.

After this incident, the executive told the Huffington Post that “nobody” stood up to vouch him to remain at the network.

“Leadership wasn’t particularly satisfied with that appearance,” the executive added. “None of the anchors wanted to book him. So he was essentially benched anyway.”

During his appearance on Cuomo’s show, Santorum contended that he had “misspoke” and said his remarks were “taken out of context,” but did not apologize for the cultural erasure of Native Americans in his comments.

“I think after that appearance, it was pretty clear we couldn’t use him again,” the executive told the Huffington Post.

A CNN spokesman also confirmed with the Huffington Post that the network ended its relationship with the former senator this week.

For weeks, the NCAI sought to publicly pressure CNN to remove Santorum from network, threatening a boycott.

“Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” said NCAI president Fawn Sharp in a statement last month. “Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust. Any mainstream media organization should fire him or face a boycott from more than 500 tribal nations and our allies from across the country and worldwide.”

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Rick Santorum says ‘there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture’

Rick Santorum
  • Former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum sparked backlash over comments made about Native Americans.
  • “There isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” Santorum said.
  • Online critics accused Santorum of whitewashing US history.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum sparked online backlash over recent remarks made at an event for a conservative youth organization in which he suggested Native Americans didn’t contribute to the culture of the US.

“We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” the Pennsylvania Republican said at a Young America’s Foundation event on Friday, in comments first reported by Media Matters for America.

“It was born of the people who came here pursuing religious liberty to practice their faith, to live as they ought to live, and have the freedom to do so. Religious liberty. Those are the two bulwarks of America. Faith and freedom,” Santorum, now a senior political contributor at CNN, went on to say. “I mean, you hear it all the time about faith and freedom, faith and freedom. But it is what makes America unique in the world.”

Santorum was widely lambasted over his remarks, with many accusing him of whitewashing the atrocities committed against indigenous peoples.

Some accused Santorum of echoing the talking points of white nationalists.

Santorum’s organization, Patriot Voices, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. CNN also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Senate confirms Deb Haaland as interior secretary, making her the US’s first Native American Cabinet secretary

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill.

  • The Senate voted 51-40 on Monday to confirm Deb Haaland as interior secretary.
  • With the historic vote, she becomes the first Native American to serve in a presidential Cabinet.
  • Haaland received bipartisan support.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Senate voted 51-40 on Monday to confirm Deb Haaland as interior secretary, making her the country’s first Native American Cabinet secretary and creating a new chapter in the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous peoples of the United States.

Four Republicans joined Democrats to confirm Haaland: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Haaland, a congresswoman from New Mexico and a citizen of the state’s Laguna Pueblo tribe, thanked the Senate for her confirming her nomination in a tweet shortly after the vote.

“As Secretary of Interior, I look forward to collaborating with all of you,” Haaland wrote. “I am ready to serve. #BeFierce.”

President Joe Biden nominated Haaland to lead the Interior Department last December, describing her as “a barrier-breaking public servant who has spent her career fighting for families, including in Tribal Nations, rural communities, and communities of color” and who would “be ready on day one to protect our environment and fight for a clean energy future.”

After Biden’s initial announcement, Haaland highlighted the groundbreaking nature of her nomination.

“A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” she wrote on Twitter. “Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land. I am honored and ready to serve.”

In 2018, Haaland made history alongside Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas, becoming one of the first two Native American women ever elected to serve in Congress.

As a former environmental activist, Haaland has long backed progressive approaches to climate change, coming out against fracking and drilling on public lands.

As secretary of the US Department of the Interior, Haaland will play a key role in pursuing Biden’s climate agenda, which involves politically-sensitive topics such as fossil-fuel production and environmental regulations on federal lands. The department manages roughly 500 million acres of public lands and coastal waters.

In her opening statement before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month, Haaland said she would respect the significance of fossil-fuel production as interior secretary while also noting issues surrounding climate change must be addressed.

“As I’ve learned in this role, there’s no question fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come,” she said. “I know how important oil and gas revenues are to critical services. But we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed.”

She added: “Together we can work to position our nation and all of its people for success in the future, and I am committed to working cooperatively with all stakeholders, and all of Congress, to strike the right balance going forward.”

Democrats were strongly supportive of Haaland’s confirmation; she even picked up the support of Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a moderate who is deeply protective of his coal-producing state’s energy output.

“I believe Deb Haaland will be a secretary of the Interior for every American and will vote to confirm her,″ Manchin said in a statement last month. “While we do not agree on every issue, she reaffirmed her strong commitment to bipartisanship, addressing the diverse needs of our country and maintaining our nation’s energy independence.”

GOP Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Steve Daines of Montana both described Haaland’s environmental views as “radical,” which include her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which Biden canceled shortly after taking office, but the Republican opposition was not substantial enough to block her confirmation.

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