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Michael Knowles Is Right About Greta Thunberg, but Fox News Caves Anyway

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In the space of 24 hours, Greta Thunberg morphed from a participant in the cause celebre of climate change (or global warming, or global cooling depending on who and what you’re reading) to a cause celebre of her very own.

Following Thunberg’s intense speech at the United Nations on Monday, the 16-year-old got far more coverage than the climate change she spent her time decrying.

Leftists lauded her passion and commitment to the cause, never bothering to question whether her emotional bombast was justified by any objective science.

Conservatives, on the other hand, took two approaches to addressing Thunberg’s speech — one good and the other very, very bad.

The smart conservatives attacked Thunberg’s language and runaway emotionalism. The other conservatives foolishly attacked Thunberg on a personal level.

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What possessed Laura Ingraham to mention “Children of the Corn” in reference to Thunberg, I’ll never know. That might go down well with the most intensely partisan followers of the climate debate, but it doubtless settled the case for many still trying to make up their minds, and they decided in favor of the side that didn’t compare a 16-year-old girl to horror movie antagonists. In other words, Ingraham’s comparison sounded uncomfortably close to the establishment media’s characterization of the Covington kids.

Smack in between the conservatives attacking Thunberg’s language and ideas and the conservatives attacking her on a personal level was Michael Knowles of The Daily Wire.

Knowles, make no mistake, is a smart conservative. He’s a lot smarter than I am, and in most rooms he’s almost certainly the smartest guy. Yet somehow Knowles has ended up being booted from Fox News over a single comment about Thunberg, according to The Washington Post.

Guesting on Fox News’ “The Story” on Monday night, Knowles said that “the climate hysteria movement is not about science. 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.”

It was the “mentally ill” part that the media latched onto, and Fox News caved. The network issued an apology, saying, “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.”

Fox also said Knowles wouldn’t be back as a guest, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Even if Knowles was wrong, since when is Fox News a part of “cancel culture”?

But he wasn’t wrong. Thunberg has battled mental illness, and if the world is going to attack Knowles for pointing that out, then the world also should attack The New York Times for noting the exact same thing, only in more detail.

In August, Somini Sengupta at The Times reported:

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“As a child, doctors told [Thunberg] she had Asperger’s syndrome. In early adolescence she battled severe depression, so much so that she stopped eating for a while and stopped growing.

“Recovery came slowly, and only after finding a sense of purpose. ‘I’ve had my fair share of depressions, alienation, anxiety and disorders,’ she wrote in a recent Facebook post.”

So if what Knowles said on Fox News has some basis in reality, why the massive reaction? Two reasons.

Do you think Knowles' comment was inappropriate?

First, the left picked Thunberg because any attack on what she said or how she said it could very easily be recast as an attack on a child.

Second, Knowles exposed this entire farce by pointing out that Thunberg is a tool of the left — a little girl transformed into both a puppet to spout talking points and a bear trap for anyone who dared disagree.

Going forward, conservatives need to take a page from the rest of Knowles’ interview (though, we should note, autism is not a mental illness — it’s a developmental disorder). His point was that the left is exploiting a child who has suffered from mental illness, and he’s 100 percent right. That’s exactly what’s happening.

Filling a child’s head with nonsense about the end of the world due to cow flatulence is wretched.

Doing the same to a child who has struggled with anxiety and depression is evil.

After Knowles’ statement, fellow guest Christopher Hahn repeatedly called him “despicable.”

Hahn was right that something despicable was happening, but he was wrong to point the finger at Knowles. He should have pointed the finger at the U.N., climate alarmists, Democrats and every other person (himself included) exploiting that little girl to feather their own political nests.

Filling a depression-and anxiety-prone girl with visions of her world’s death is evil. Calling out that evil, as Knowles did, is good. And, as usual, the left is calling good evil and evil good.

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Josh Manning is deputy managing editor, assignment, at The Western Journal. He holds a masters in public policy from Harvard University and has a background in higher education.
Josh Manning grew up outside of Memphis, TN and developed a love of history, politics, and government studies thanks to a life-changing history and civics teacher named Mr. McBride.

He holds an MPP from Harvard University and a BA from Lyon College, a small but distinguished liberal arts college where he also served as an interim vice president.

While in school he did everything possible to confront, discomfit, and drive ivy league liberals to their knees.

After a number of years working in academe, he moved to digital journalism and opinion. Since that point, he has held various leadership positions at The Western Journal and now serves as editor-at-large.

He's married to a gorgeous blonde who played in the 1998 NCAA women's basketball championship game, and he has two pre-teens who hate doing dishes more than poison. He makes life possible for two boxers -- "Hank" Rearden Manning and "Tucker" Carlson Manning -- and a pitbull named Nikki Haley "Gracie" Manning.
MPP from Harvard University, BA from Lyon College
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, tiny fragments of college French
Topics of Expertise
Writing, politics, Christianity, social media curation, higher education, firearms