For the past several weeks, Fox News has repeatedly attacked out Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for not visiting the site of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio that occurred on February 3. Fox, along with other conservatives, has gone so far as to call him “evil” for not visiting and said that it is unheard of for someone in Buttigieg’s position not to visit the train accident site. Much of the criticism has been homophobic.
But Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy accidentally told Fox viewers that the Trump administration’s Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, never visited the site of a train derailment despite the numerous train derailments and other accidents that occurred on her watch. Buttigieg, meanwhile, visited East Palestine yesterday.
“I knew nothing about these derailment numbers,” co-host Brian Kilmeade said yesterday morning, contradicting the Fox narrative that the train derailment is a sign of the Biden administration’s general incompetence. “I’m stunned by it that we have thousands of derailments all the time and how costly it is? And how they’re not kept up and maybe the regulation needs to be there?”
Doocy then read some statistics, and one was that Chao visited the site of a train derailment a total of zero times during the Trump administration.
“During the Trump administration, apparently even when there were derailments, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao never visited the sites,” Doocy said. He said it was different because now people don’t trust the government. The chyron on-screen read, “Buttigieg to finally visit E. Palestine, OH today.”
“There was nothing that equated to this during the Trump administration,” Doocy insisted. “There were some fatality derailments where people lost their lives during the Trump administration. Nobody lost their life during [the East Palestine train derailment]. But this can destroy a town!”
To say that Fox News and conservative media more generally have been critical of Buttigieg would be an understatement.
In the aftermath of the derailment, conservatives blamed it on Buttigieg, despite how specific train safety regulations were rolled back during the Trump administration. Then they accused the Biden administration of not sending help, but Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, rejected federal aid until just last week. He said on MSNBC that the federal government has been helping and federal workers “are doing a very good job.”
Then the attack on Buttigieg – when it’s not that he got his job because he’s gay, despite being the first gay Cabinet secretary ever in a country where heterosexuality used to be a job requirement for federal civil service – became that he hadn’t visited the site of the derailment because he just didn’t care about the people affected by it. A Daily Caller reporter on Wednesday followed Buttigieg in the street, repeatedly asking him what his “message” for the people of East Palestine was, not listening to his answers.
Fox’s Tucker Carlson went so far as to say, “There’s never been a Cabinet secretary this flamboyantly incompetent, and this is so obviously uncaring, almost to the point of evil.”
Much of the criticism has been blatantly homophobic, like Donald Trump Jr. saying that Buttigieg’s only qualification was being gay, a conservative political cartoonist drawing a giant butt on Buttigieg in a cartoon about the derailment, and a GOP official calling Buttigieg “Pete Buttplug.”