Conservative YouTube pundits and Fox Nation personalities Diamond and Silk used airtime Friday to label Rep. Steve Cohen “racially insensitive” for bringing an assortment of chicken-themed props to a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday to tease Attorney General William Barr for not showing up.
Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, chowed down on a Kentucky Fried Chicken original recipe chicken thigh at his spot on the committee-room members’ dais before giving a news conference where he ridiculed the attorney general as “Chicken Barr” for skipping the hearing over a format dispute.
“He’s racially insensitive, that’s what I think,” Lynette Hardaway, known as Diamond on her YouTube commentary series, said on “Fox & Friends” on Friday. “Can you imagine if that was a Republican doing that to a Democrat? Just think about that for a moment.”
It’s unclear what about Cohen’s stunt, while nearly universally panned as silly, would constitute racial insensitivity. Both Barr and Cohen are white. Cohen represents Tennessee’s 9th District encompassing most of metropolitan Memphis. His constituency is two-thirds black.
But the Twitterverse thought it was racially insensitive to bring on two black women to talk about an episode in Congress involving fried chicken.
“Booking Diamond and Silk on Fox News to talk about Cohen being racial insensitive with his Bill Barr KFC chicken gag is what’s actually racially insensitive,” one Twitter user wrote.
Booking Diamond and Silk on Fox News to talk about Cohen being racial insensitive with his Bill Barr KFC chicken gag is what’s actually racially insensitive.— Real Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) May 3, 2019
“Are Diamond and Silk your go to fried chicken experts? How was Steve Cohen eating fried chick in any way ‘racially insensitive’? Having 2 black women on to talk about fried chicken seems just plain racist,” another tweeted.
This might literally be the stupidest thing @foxnews has ever aired. Are Diamond and Silk your go to fried chicken experts? How was Steve Cohen eating fried chick in any way “racially insensitive”? Having 2 black women on to talk about fried chicken seems just plain racist. https://t.co/QGLgdFmwuB— Andrew Kachel (@AndrewKachel) May 3, 2019
Barr had warned Democrats earlier in the week he would not show for the hearing if the committee allowed its staff to ask him questions. Democrats on Wednesday pushed forward with a measure to allow their staff to ask questions at the hearing anyway.
“Chicken Barr should have showed up today and answered questions. He was afraid of Barry Burke. He was afraid of Norm Eisen,” Cohen said at a news conference after the hearing, holding up for cameras a white ceramic chicken that he had earlier placed at the witness table and referring to two lawyers on the Democratic Judiciary Committee staff.
“An attorney general who is picked for his legal acumen and his abilities would not be fearful of any other attorneys questioning him for thirty minutes. … It’s a sad day in America,” Cohen said.
Barr testified for about five hours about the Mueller report before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Kerry Kupec, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said in a statement Wednesday that House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s “insistence on having staff question the Attorney General, a Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, is inappropriate.”
Such a format of staff asking questions is also “unnecessary,” Kupec said, because most of the members on the panel, including Nadler, are themselves attorneys.
“The Attorney General remains happy to engage directly with Members on their questions regarding the report and looks forward to continue working with the Committee on their oversight requests,” Kupec said.