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Former Trump Aide Apologizes for ‘Cotton-Picking’ Remark to Black Guest on Fox News

Posted June 24, 2018 7:14 p.m. EDT

David Bossie, former deputy campaign manager for President Donald Trump and a veteran conservative activist, apologized Sunday after he told a black guest on Fox News, “You’re out of your cotton-picking mind.”

Bossie made the remark during an on-air discussion Sunday morning with Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist and frequent Fox guest, who fumed at Bossie afterward, telling him: “I got some relatives who picked cotton. And I’m not going to sit here and allow you to attack me like that.”

Bossie’s words prompted a rare on-air repudiation from Ed Henry, host of the program on which the men appeared, and from the network itself. A Fox News spokeswoman released a statement Sunday that called Bossie’s outburst “deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate.”

“His remarks do not reflect the sentiments of Fox News and we do not in any way condone them,” the statement added.

In a Twitter post Sunday afternoon, Bossie said he should have chosen his words “more carefully and never used the offensive phrase that I did.” He added, “I apologize to Joel Payne, Fox News and its viewers.”

Bossie has been one of the president’s closest outside advisers. On Saturday he traveled on Air Force One with Trump for the president’s visit to Las Vegas.

The on-air confrontation grew heated as the two men debated the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the southern border. Bossie appeared to be trying to say that Democrats had badly overreacted to the issue.

As soon as Payne began to call him out for his remark, Bossie backtracked. “You guys are out of your minds,” he said, dropping the racially charged “cotton-picking.”

The two men were in the same Washington studio at the time.

After the segment ended — with Henry cutting awkwardly to a commercial break — they had what Payne later described in an interview with MSNBC as “a brief, very terse exchange.” Payne said that Bossie had “expressed some regret.”

This was the second time in a few days that one of the president’s close associates has sparked outrage for an insensitive comment during a shouting match on Fox News.

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, reacted with a dismissive “womp womp” when a Democratic strategist said Trump’s separation policy had led to a girl with Down syndrome being separated from her parents.