Fox News apologized on Monday night after a guest brought on to discuss climate change called 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg a “mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents" and the left.
“The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on The Story tonight was disgraceful — we apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers,” a spokesperson for the network told The Hill in a statement.
Fox News also confirmed that they have "no plans" to further book Knowles.
Knowles, a conservative pundit and podcast host for the Daily Wire, made the comment on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” after discussing why he believes meatless diets could negatively impact the environment.
“None of that matters because the climate hysteria movement is not about science,” Knowles said about Thunberg. “If it were about science, it would be led by scientists rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”
Knowles faced an immediate rebuke from liberal radio host Christopher Hahn, who was also a guest on the show.
“How dare you?” Hahn interjected during Knowles’s statement.
Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner, who was filling in for MacCallum, gave Hahn an opportunity to elaborate, and he quickly tore into Knowles in a heated exchange.
“You’re a grown man and you’re attacking a child,” Hahn said. “Shame on you.”
Knowles insisted that he wasn’t going after Thunberg but was “attacking the left for exploiting a mentally ill child.”
“Now, relax, skinny boy,” Hahn said. “Have some couth when you’re on television. Maybe on your podcast you get away and say whatever you want because nobody’s listening. You’re on national television. Be a grown-up when you’re talking about children.”
“You are despicable for talking about her like that. You should apologize on national television right now,” Hahn later added.
Knowles defended himself on Twitter, saying that Thunberg's mother has “discussed her child's mental disorders” and adding “there is nothing shameful about living with mental disorders.”
“What is shameful is exploiting a child — particularly a child with mental disorders — to advance your political agenda,” Knowles said.
Her mother wrote a book about her mental issues. There is nothing shameful about living with mental disorders.— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) September 24, 2019
What is shameful is exploiting a child—particularly a child with mental disorders—to advance your political agenda. https://t.co/oNR6iw7mRF
Knowles remarks came after the teenager gave an emotional plea to world leaders at the United Nations.
"People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of the mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you,” Thunberg said in the now-viral speech.
Thunberg has been open about being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome as well as ADHD, selective mutism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
She has spoken about how her diagnosis has given her insight on her climate activism.
“Our societies need to change, and we need people who think outside the box and we need to start taking care of each other. And embrace our differences,” she wrote on World Autism Awareness Day in April.