Presidential historian on Fox News says Benjamin Franklin successfully thwarted ‘cancel culture’

fox news ben franklin cancel culture historian jane hampton cook
Fox News guest Jane Hampton Cook

  • A self-professed presidential historian gave an unsual take on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning.
  • Author Jane Hampton Cook credited Benjamin Franklin with thwarting cancel culture in the 1700s.
  • “Cancel culture wasn’t as big a problem … after Franklin, because he laid those standards.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Fox News guest credited Benjamin Franklin with battling cancel culture in the 18th Century during a “Fox & Friends” appearance on Wednesday.

“He was this lifelong free speech advocate, but he gave us those standards that we’ve lived by for centuries now,” Jane Hampton Cook said, echoing a recent op-ed published on the Fox News website looking at a dustup when Franklin ran an ad mocking clergy members in his newspaper.

“So he understood that you had to preserve the liberty as free speech,” Cook later said. “And that’s why cancel culture wasn’t as big a problem in the decades after Franklin, because he laid those standards.”

Cook has written several books involving the founding fathers, but she does not have a history degree of any sort, according to her LinkedIn page. She lists a bachelor’s degree in music from Baylor University in 1992 and a master’s in education, communications, and public relations from Texas A&M University in 1995.

Fox News did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on why she was depicted as a presidential historian on-air.

As Insider’s Rachel Greenspan reported, the term “cancel culture” is a relatively new phenomenon largely tied to social media and private companies taking actions against offensive speech or responding to backlash from various constituencies, and only got an Urban Dictionary entry in 2018.

Other Fox personalities have made similar historical analogies, such as when daytime anchor Bill Hemmer warned that cancel culture could “come after Bible characters next” because a Chicago committee was examining whether to relocate or remove statues and other public monuments.

With the segment falling in the last block of the “Fox & Friends” three hour time slot, co-host Brian Kilmeade did not have any followups and took Cook’s analysis at face value before moving on with the show.

“But it’s almost reassuring to know he had to deal with the same thing,” Kilmeade said. “And there’s always a pushback when it comes to free speech, where the line is. The line is: let’s hear everything.”

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