Fox News Declares Caitlin Clark the ‘Jackie Robinson of the WNBA’ After Hard Foul

Brian Fluharty/Getty
Brian Fluharty/Getty

WNBA rookie sensation Caitlin Clark last week denounced the use of her name to inflame culture wars, calling those efforts by pundits and politicians “disappointing” and “unacceptable.”

But after Clark was flagrantly fouled by her college rival Angel Reese on Sunday, Fox News and right-wing media blatantly ignored the Indiana Fever star’s pleas and continued to fuel the outrage flames surrounding the 22-year-old guard.

“This is the Jackie Robinson of the WNBA,” Fox News contributor David Webb exclaimed on Sunday night. “She is getting abused!”

Webb’s comparison of Clark to the man who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in the 1940s briefly left his Big Weekend Show co-host Tom Shillue a bit tongue-tied, though Shillue did eventually agree that Clark has become a “target” for the WNBA’s other players.

Fox & Friends, also got in on the action on Monday morning. The flagship morning show’s hosts expressed dismay that Reese defended the hard foul as “a basketball play” and suggested that Clark was getting special treatment from the referees.

“That is worse than a regular foul?” Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt wondered after airing a clip of the play, which featured Reese hitting Clark in the head after swiping at the ball.

“The worst ever without being arrested,” co-host Brian Kilmeade responded, prompting a laughing Lawrence Jones to note that the refs “didn’t kick her out” of the game.

“Not yet!” Kilmeade reacted, adding: “We’re covering it because we like it. We like controversy!”

Caitlin Clark Breaks Her Silence on Olympics Snub

Reese and Clark have been engaged in a yearslong heated rivalry dating back to their on-court meetings in the NCAA tournament. Reese was immediately pilloried by conservative media outlets over the hard foul.

The Daily Caller blared in a headline that Clark nearly got her “head taken off after a classless whack from Angel Reese.” Far-right sports commentator Jason Whitlock groused about Reese's contention that the foul wasn’t flagrant, claiming she is “delusional” and “always a victim.”

Right-wing sports site OutKick, which is owned by Fox News’ parent company, published a piece raging about former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III’s claim that Reese and Clark “are being used in a race war that is not fair to either athlete or the game of basketball.”

“There are some people intent on turning the situation between Clark and Reese into something it’s not. Claiming there's a ‘race war’ is absolutely nuts and not true,” OutKick’s David Hookstead wrote. “People don't dislike Angel Reese because she's black and people don't love Caitlin Clark because she's white. Some fans dislike Reese because they think she's a sore loser and a dirty player.”

It would appear that Hookstead was unaware that his own boss is one of the “people intent on turning the situation” into one about race.

During a Monday morning appearance on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, OutKick founder Clay Travis asserted that Reese was making “an impossible argument” by suggesting she was unfairly called for a flagrant foul.

Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark Battle It Out In First WNBA Game

“This is the argument I’ve been making for several weeks now, the Fever need to get an enforcer to protect Caitlin Clark because she’s getting wrecked. And it doesn’t seem to me like anyone on her team is out there providing the body, the support, the protection that sometimes you need when you have a young talent that is getting treated unfairly.”

He continued: “I think there are lots of reasons for that unfairness, and everybody has their opinions. But I think certainly that, in my opinion, it is jealousy. I think it’s race. I think it’s sexual orientation.”

Indeed, Travis has been banging the drum for weeks now about how Clark has been targeted for being a white player in a predominantly Black league.

“Caitlin Clark is a white, heterosexual woman in a Black, lesbian league and they resent and are jealous of all of the attention and the shoe deal that she got,” Travis told Sean Hannity earlier this month. “They don't like her because she's white and they don't like her because she's straight. And as a result, the league is coming undone around her even though she's bringing new fans.”

Invoking the conservative media’s ongoing outrage over trans athletes, Travis has also implored the Fever to sign a man to “wreck bitches” who get physical with Clark. “Go find Dennis Rodman, put him in a wig, he would make several million dollars,” he proclaimed on his podcast. “It would be very brave, he could keep his dick, no need to chop it off. Just put him in a sports bra, he could run around and just wreck chicks like he used to do protecting Michael Jordan.”

Chennedy Carter Is Not One Bit Sorry About That Caitlin Clark Foul

While Travis is now singing Clark’s praises and demanding she be protected at all costs, it wasn’t that long ago when he said she should count herself lucky to get any salary because “nobody cares” about women’s basketball. “Caitlin Clark could not start on a top state champion high school boys team,” he insisted this past March.

As for Webb comparing Clark to Jackie Robinson, he somehow isn’t the first to make the connection. A quick review of X (formerly Twitter) shows that this particularly hot take has been going strong since Clark was the recipient of a hard foul earlier this season from Reese’s Chicago Sky teammate Chennedy Carter.

The culture wars surrounding Clark will only continue to simmer this summer. GOP lawmakers and former Republican presidential candidates have already called for investigations into why Clark was left off the Olympic team, and have pushed the WNBA to discipline Carter for knocking Clark down.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.