Keen-eyed Fox News viewers caught an interesting choice of art in the background of an interview Bret Baier conducted with Harold Ford Jr.
The former U.S. congressman from Tennessee raised eyebrows during his interview with Baier on “Special Report” Thursday as viewers noticed a painting of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong over his fireplace mantle.
Twitter users speculated about how the former Democrat lawmaker was okay with portraying the image of the “mass murderer” as screenshots of the Fox News clip were posted.
“Not judging… but sure is interesting that @HaroldFordJr has a print of mass murderer Mao over his fireplace,” lawyer Steve Milloy tweeted.
Not judging… but sure is interesting that @HaroldFordJr has a print of mass murderer Mao over his fireplace.
— Steve Milloy (@JunkScience) January 14, 2021
Others were equally baffled and horrified.
How in the freaking world do you have a portrait up of Mao in your living room? Ford Jr. must be okay with the fact that Mao has killed over 60 Million of his own people. 🇨🇳 pic.twitter.com/4tATcCmsiM
— 48™️ (@fadde) January 15, 2021
Chairman Mao overlooking former Dem US Rep Harold Ford.
— Gregg Benefiel (@greggbenefiel) January 14, 2021
Anyone know why former congressman Harold Ford had a portrait of Mao Tse Tung on his wall behind him when he was on Fox News?
— Joseph Tatman (@tjoseph2810) January 14, 2021
The image sparked plenty of theories before the truth was known.
Why does Harold Ford of Tennessee have a picture of Mao over his fire place? pic.twitter.com/WjaEpsSuJO
— Stephanie 💞 (@steff_jordan) January 15, 2021
The scary part is that Harold Ford is presented as a moderate voice.
Chairman Mao ain’t moderate. https://t.co/15y5MMXqCo
— Johnnie Taco (@Johnnietaco) January 15, 2021
But Baier finally put out the social media fire, explaining that the reason for the art in the background was not Ford’s personal choice.
“Harold @HaroldFordJr is renting a house in a vacation spot for a few weeks -he doesn’t control the walls. Strong background analysis, but Harold is not a Maoist- he was elected in Tennessee. Thanks for watching!” Baier tweeted in response to one of the many posts questioning the image.
Harold @HaroldFordJr is renting a house in a vacation spot for a few weeks -he doesn’t control the walls. Strong background analysis, but Harold is not a Maoist- he was elected in Tennessee. Thanks for watching! https://t.co/xAUwcSWbQb
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) January 15, 2021
The Fox News host repeated the clarification again a short while later.
As noted in previous tweet Tom. — “Harold @HaroldFordJr is renting a home for a few weeks in a vacation spot – he doesn’t control the walls. Strong background analysis, but Harold is not a Maoist- he was elected in Tennessee. Thanks for watching” https://t.co/7caESAnmwu
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) January 15, 2021
Ford himself finally weighed in and confirmed that he was, indeed, renting the property and his own home sports art depicting Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King Jr.
As @BretBaier said, I’m just renting a place – didn’t choose the art – my house has Ali and MLK on the walls – no fan of Communist China or Mao – my public record and words on Fox and elsewhere about China prove that
— Harold Ford, Jr. (@HaroldFordJr) January 15, 2021
Adding to the social media drama, viewers noted that the Mao painting appeared to disappear mid-interview:
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) January 15, 2021
Note Mao’s disappearance in the second shot (right). pic.twitter.com/X94LkrUGnQ
— Steve Milloy (@JunkScience) January 15, 2021
While the near-controversy seemed to be averted, many Twitter users still had thoughts.
Gee, if I were just renting a place that had a giant picture of Mao in the living room I might say “ugh” and take my video calls in a different room but that’s just me
— Latentem (@Latentem) January 15, 2021
Or even just slightly turn the camera to move it out of frame.
— Torchiest (@Torchiest) January 15, 2021
Did you not know who it was? I mean, that’s a pretty large portrait and in a very prominent position. Sorry, not buying it.
— Dippy (@DippysWorld) January 15, 2021
— Nate 🇺🇸🏳️🌈 (@big_nate2000) January 15, 2021
And you chose it for your background on a @FoxNews broadcast spot. Hmmmmmmm.
— Kathy Reynolds (@kerintexas) January 15, 2021
IDK, Bret. It’s offensive to me (and to many others, I’m sure) to see a former American congressman with a portrait of Mao behind him while conducting an interview. Rental or not – at the very least – the portrait should have been taken down while occupying the house.
— David Knox (@DK0001) January 15, 2021
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