Fox News host Brian Kilmeade vociferously defended the controversial Saudi-backed golf tour on Tuesday, seemingly dismissing the intense backlash the league has received from families of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Additionally, the Fox & Friends star suggested, the LIV Golf tour is necessary because the PGA moved tournaments away from former President Donald Trump’s golf courses after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Earlier this month, the PGA Tour suspended 17 of its players—including multi-time major champions Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson—for defecting to the Saudi-funded rival. LIV Golf, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has been accused of “sportswashing” atrocities committed by the oil-rich and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including the vicious dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Mickelson, who received a reported $200 million to join the league, has come particularly under intense fire as he’s become the face of the tour. Having already sparked backlash for his apparent dismissal of Khashoggi’s murder, Mickelson and others were recently slammed by The 9/11 Families United group for joining LIV yet still participating in this week’s US Open. (The PGA suspension does not impact this major tournament.)
“They are helping the Saudi regime ‘sportswash’ their reputation in return for tens of millions of dollars, at the very same time our government is rolling out more damning evidence of Saudi culpability in the 9/11 attacks,” a representative for the organization said. The group’s letter also noted that Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi.
Appearing on Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co., however, Kilmeade suggested maybe the 9/11 families are being a bit harsh on the poor golfers.
“Saudi Arabia has never been a pure country. Not many people say I’m so glad to be dealing with the Saudis,” the conservative Fox host declared.
After noting that President Joe Biden will pay the crown prince a visit in the upcoming weeks despite calling the country a “pariah” state, Kilmeade—in a classic bit of whataboutism—invoked other sports orgs getting involved with authoritarian leaders and brutal regimes.
“In China, on a regular basis, the Uyghurs are being tortured and destroyed,” he exclaimed. “It is a genocide. We still see nonstop interaction between the NBA, the NFL, Major League Baseball—everybody!”
Kilmeade and anchor Stuart Varney then took issue with the PGA being “the only game in town” before applauding LIV commissioner Greg Norman and other golfers for taking on the long-standing golf organization. Kilmeade, for instance, compared LIV Golf to other upstart pro-sports leagues such as the ABA and USFL, adding that the additional competition could be good for pro golf in the long run.
At the same time, he wanted critics—such as the families of 9/11 victims—to trust his advice about the Saudi league because he is an expert on Middle East relations and terrorism.
“I’m not speaking for the 9/11 families. I get it! No one’s done more on the War on Terror and more studying and read more books about that than me,” the morning Fox News host boasted. “But I also know we’re back in relations with Saudi Arabia, combing with them to wipe out ISIS and al Qaeda.”
Kilmeade then quickly made the issue about Trump and the loss of revenue to his golf courses following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“It’s complicated, but don’t make the stand this tournament,” he blustered. “My goodness! You barred Donald Trump—you decided to move the PGA out of Donald Trump’s courses. Guess what? The LIV tournament is going to be at Doral! So, all of a sudden, you want to boycott our president, the PGA does, and no one’s supposed to have a problem with that?!”
Agreeing with Kilmeade, Varney further stated that “at some point, the PGA has to back away from its threat to suspend all those players who go to the LIV tournament.” The Fox & Friends star, meanwhile, had one last word.
“I understand the PGA wants to defend itself and the 9/11 families have every reason to speak out,” he concluded. “And Khashoggi was a brutal murder but everywhere you go you have a Russian owning the New Jersey Nets… for about 15 or 20 years and nobody spoke out about that!”