Eboni Williams, co-host of “The Fox News Specialists,” told Variety on Wednesday that she received death threats after addressing President Donald Trump on Monday over his remarks about the violence in Charlottesville. In her segment “Eboni’s Docket,” the co-host attacked Trump for “tacitly encouraging” racists by equivocating in his statement on Saturday.
“I should meet my maker soon, I shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets of New York,” Eboni told Variety, paraphrasing some of the attacks against her. “They heard that I live in Harlem — Harlem needs to watch out.”
The co-host said that her personal website, which usually receives an average of 10-15 emails after each segment, was inundated with over 150 emails, and only three of them were anything besides “seething, scathing” attacks.
Her book publisher became so concerned that he asked her to request additional security from Fox News. Williams is now escorted to and from the building when she arrives at work. Her book, Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success, releases next month.
Williams told Variety that the typical responses she gets from Fox News viewers praise her for her reasonable arguments on the air. The new attacks — and death threats — she received shocked her, but she tied them to Trump’s “tacit compliance” of violent political rhetoric. Williams pointed to Trump’s Tuesday morning retweet of the image of a train running over a person with the CNN logo.
“When you don’t speak out and condemn, that’s tacit compliance in my book,” the co-host said. “So whether President Trump approves of it actually, or actually wants it, I think is irrelevant because what we know is that these people think they are acting on behalf of the President of the United States.”
Williams added that the president’s retweet “flies in the face of what I hoped would be a better day post-Congressman Steve Scalise’s shooting, where for two seconds, everybody said, ‘Let’s do better, let’s do better, we can disagree, but let’s stop with the violent political rhetoric,’ and, really, what becomes violent political action.”
The co-host argued that Trump’s supporters will never turn on him. “I truly believe what he said, that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and they will stand by him,” she said. “So I think that empowers him to actually forcefully reject and speak directly to the fears and the anger that’s driving this level of violence and white supremacy and Nazism, I think he can actually speak it down in an aggressive way and they will still support him.”
On Monday, Williams went after Trump directly.
“My president, your initial remarks were cowardly and dangerous,” the co-host declared. She asked whether the slogan “Make America Great Again” included “Jews, blacks, gays, and Hispanics,” or if “some of us” would be left out. After Trump’s Charlottesville remarks, she said she could no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.
“In a moment when you could have been crystal clear where you stand on the issue of inclusion, standing up against white supremacy and domestic terrorism, you very intentionally chose to be ambiguous and to equivocate,” Williams alleged. “President Trump, I do not know your heart, but what I know for sure is that you’ve done the math, and you’ve decided that your portion of the base that is absolutely racist is so significant, so valuable, that you hesitate … to risk ticking them off.”
“So while you personally might not be a racist, President Trump, what you are is all too happy to reap the benefits of their support, and you even tacitly encourage them with evasive, irresponsible statements,” she concluded.
Williams is a registered independent and voted for Barack Obama. She nevertheless compared Obama’s stance on the violence in Chicago to Trump’s stance on violence now, in her remarks to Variety Wednesday.
“While I think President Obama was uniquely positioned as a black man and the leader of the free world in that moment to speak to those black males in Chicago in a way I would have better appreciated, it’s a similar thing with President Trump right now,” the co-host said. “He’s a white male that represents … the patriarchal, white male dominant structure, so he could speak to white America in a way that Obama never could.”
Williams also told Variety that the death threats leveled against her also attacked her for refusing to attack the counter-protesters in Charlottesville. “I don’t think they were at fault because they didn’t drive a car into a crowd of people and kill Heather Heyer,” the co-host explained. “That was one individual that self-identified as a white nationalist and Nazi.”
While Williams might have been wrong to fully overlook any blame on the part of counter-protesters, she did not deserve death threats for doing so. Americans need to learn the lessons of political violence — from both the Left and the Right — and avoid the kind of rhetoric that got Steve Scalise shot and Heather Heyer tragically murdered. The country desperately needs civility on both sides, yesterday.